Soccer in Atlanta is hotter than ever. In turn, the city’s booming energy around the sport caught the attention of German soccer club FC Schalke 04, sparking it to plan a series of youth soccer events this month in partnership with Kick It 3v3.
Earlier this year, Schalke announced a partnership with Kick It, the largest grassroots soccer tournament tour in the U.S. As a part of that, it has committed itself to connecting with and developing American youth talent. The next step in the partnership will take it to Atlanta, a fast-growing soccer hotbed and a city where Kick It has been growing its presence as well.
The events, which will take place December 15 and 16 at LakePoint Sports Complex, will include youth soccer clinics, mascot tours and contests, amongst a larger Kick It tournament. In working to fulfill its goal of youth development, Schalke will send coaches to the city for the weekend to oversee two youth clinics during the Kick It competition.
“With one of Schalke’s main focuses being youth development, this upcoming Kick It 3v3 tournament in Atlanta is our first foray into scouting new and promising talent at this level in America,” said Alexander Jobst, member of the Managing Board for Schalke.
Schalke has an impressive history developing youth talent and is known for its “Knappenschmiede” youth academy, which has produced a number of world-class players, including American star and Kick It alum Weston McKennie, who plays for Schalke and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Through its partnership with Kick It, it is helping develop the next generation of American players and finding creative ways to connect with the country’s growing soccer community.
“Our global partnership with Schalke continues to drive unique, innovative experiences for soccer players and communities across the country,” said Matt Novogratz, CEO of Kick It.
In addition to providing an opportunity for young players in Atlanta to develop their soccer skills, Schalke will work to instill the club’s values of confidence, helpfulness, supportiveness, a strong character, focus, fairness, honesty and passion into the athletes as well.
Over the course of the weekend, the German club’s coaches will select a Kick It youth team that embodies those values to travel to Gelsenkirchen, Germany, for a behind-the-scenes tour and tickets to watch a Schalke home match at its home stadium, VELTINS-Arena.
“We’re excited about taking this step with Kick It to bring the power and tradition of Schalke to Atlanta,” said Jobst.
In a bit of lighthearted fun, Schalke will unleash its mascot, Erwin, at the tournament and around the city over the weekend to visit iconic locations within Atlanta and search for other mascots residing in the strong sports city.
There has been a growing trend of European clubs trying to connect with the American soccer community and develop a fan base. Schalke plays in the Bundesliga, a league with a growing U.S. presence that is currently home to several young, talented American players.
Opportunities like this, with an impressionable young audience, will allow Schalke to develop a personal connection with the club, aiding its long-term growth in the States.