Soccer Banter: What is your own background with the game of soccer and how did you get involved with CFC Azul?
Robin Schuppert: Well, I grew up in Germany and just like most other Europeans I grew up with soccer. Every day I went straight from school to the soccer field and played until it was dark. I moved to the US when I was 13 and stopped playing when I was 15. Fast forward to college, at Quinnipiac I spent my first three years covering both the men's and women's teams for the school newspaper and broadcasted some games for the school's student radio station. Before my senior year women's head coach Dave Clarke asked me if I wanted to work with the team and through that I met Steve Coxon. About a half year after graduation Steve called me up and told me he had exciting plans to start a PDL franchise and asked me if I wanted to get involved. The rest, as they say, is history.
SB: What is a day in the life like for you in your role as General Manager with CFC Azul?
RS: Each day is different, which is what makes this job so much fun and keeps it exciting. Most of my days have me going to the office, but on other's Steve and I will be on the road going to meetings. A typical day in the office would include going through and responding to e-mails, getting in touch with our head coach to see if he has any needs, and also getting in touch with Steve. Right now we're in the process of finalizing our stadium agreements, ordering all of our equipment, and reaching out to potential sponsors. Then you have the day to day work of registering players with the league, reaching out to media, keeping in touch with other team's in the league etc. etc. There's always something to do and I'm glad to have three interns to help me out with some of these things.
RS: 67 days to be exact, but who's counting? Right now our biggest priority is getting our stadium situation set. That has been a road block and has really been our biggest obstacle in our young history. Once we have our stadium situation resolved, we can begin our season ticket sales, we can start advertising our home games, and we can work with local youth clubs in setting up different events for them for our home games. When we get this resolved over the next few weeks, it will really get the ball rolling. We've also just ordered our uniforms and scarves and other team merchandise so we want to make those available for our fans on our website.
SB: Being thrown into starting a PDL franchise from scratch: What have you learned so far? Any regrets?
RS: Zero regrets. I enjoy every moment of this job. I've always wanted to work with a soccer franchise and getting started at such a young age is incredible. The two people I deal with most on a day to day basis (Dave Kelly - Head Coach, and Steve Coxon - Owner/ President) are great people and I very much enjoy working with them. We also went down to Florida for the league's AGM and it was amazing how many contacts I made and how many people I met. The people I've met and the contacts I've made through this job are incredible. I tell Steve every day...this isn’t a job to me. Like they say, if you do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life.
RS: Had I answered this question a week ago, my response might have been a bit different before the embarrassing loss to Basel. Not so much embarrassing for losing at Basel, but embarrassing in how they played. Before that they obviously played very well in making it through one of the toughest groups and clinching first place before the last match in a group with Manchester City, Napoli and Villareal. But I think if you're talking about winning the Champions League you must include Barcelona and Real Madrid in the discussion, and if you don't that would be disrespectful to them. Both of those clubs are still a step ahead of the rest of the clubs. If Bayern can avoid those teams until the final, then anything can happen. With the final in Munich this year I'm obviously pulling for Bayern to make it there and hopefully win it all. If they're healthy and have some luck with the draw, they could do it.
SB: Jurgen Klinsmann enjoyed great success with the German National team, but his time with Bayern was not as successful. Do you feel he is the right coach to lead the US team forward?
RS: I think one thing Klinsmann needs is time. At Bayern he didn't get much time because you're on the hot seat if you don't win every game. If the Americans give him time, I think he can do well. Of course I also think he needs a good tactical assistant coach. While he was with the German national team and finished third at the World Cup in 2006, Joachim Loew was his assistant and rumblings around Germany were that Loew handled most of the tactical side of the game and Klinsmann was more of a motivator for the team. At Bayern he had a relatively unknown (to us Germans) assistant in Martin Vazquez. But not all things he did at Bayern were bad. He was instrumental in the development of a state of the art performance center for the club and his ideas of fitness training are still practiced there now. I think time will tell with the US job. If they give him time and let him develop some of his ideas I think they can succeed. He has a ton of ideas on how to revolutionize the game, he just needs time to develop them.