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FC Schalke 04 and Kick It 3v3 Aim to Develop Youth Soccer Talent in Atlanta

The German Club and American grassroots soccer tournament tour will host a youth tournament in Atlanta this month — aiding the sport’s growth in the States.

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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.

READ MORE: Super Soccer Stars Grows Its Presence in the Health and Wellness Space

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.

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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.

Lucy is a contributing writer for Front Office Sports. A storyteller and brand strategist, she has worked in the sports industry for organizations including the United States Olympic Committee, IMG/WME and the Miami Open, the University of Miami Athletic Department, Florida Panthers, and Minnesota Twins. She spent 2016 living in Colombia where she accomplished a life-long goal of becoming fluent in Spanish while working for the Ministerio de Educación Nacional. Lucy is a graduate of the University of Miami. She can be reached at lucy@frntofficesport.com.

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Kyrie Irving Expected to Sign with Roc Nation

Kyrie Irving is expected to sign with Roc Nation, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

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Kyrie Irving is expected to sign with Roc Nation, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Irving, who was most recently repped by Jeffrey Wechsler of 24/7 Sports Management, joins an NBA client roster at Roc Nation that includes the likes of Kevin Durant, Josh Hart, Justise Winslow, Danny Green and Caris LeVert.

The switch in representation comes on the same day that Irving took the first step toward his prospective free agency this summer.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving is not opting into his $21.3 million contract for the 2019-20 season and will become an unrestricted free agent.

By not opting into his contract, Irving can sign with any NBA team when free agency opens on Sunday, June 30th.

If he signs with a team other than the Celtics, he will be eligible to sign a max deal worth $139 million over four years.

If he were to stay with the Celtics, Irving can sign a five-year deal worth $188 million.

An industry source speculated that Roc Nation could be waiving the fees on Irving’s contract in order to retain his marketing rights.

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Meet the WNBA’s New Boss

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert will become the first commissioner of the WNBA and the first woman to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

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*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

For the first time ever, the WNBA will have a commissioner. Before now, all of the league’s previous leaders like Val Ackerman and Lisa Borders were given the title of president. 

Cathy Engelbert, the current CEO of Deloitte, will take control of the role on July 17th and will report directly to Adam Silver. 

What should you know?

1. By the time she is done at Deloitte, Engelbert will have spent more time at the company (33 years) than the WNBA has been a league (23 years)

2. Engelbert is the first female to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

3. She is the fifth person to lead the league after Val Ackerman (1997-2005), Donna Orender (2005-10), Laurel Richie (2011-15) and Lisa Borders (2016-2018)

4. Engelbert has spent the past four years in charge of Deloitte’s U.S. operation.

Basketball is in her blood…

Although she might be an accountant by trade, Engelbert is no stranger to the game of basketball. 

According to Bob Hille of Sporting News, she played at Lehigh for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and was a team captain as a senior. Her father Kurt also played and was drafted in 1957 by the Pistons.

What are they saying?

“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth. The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” – Adam Silver on the hiring of Engelbert

“I think that’s probably one of the reasons I was selected for this role, to come in and bring a business plan to build the WNBA into a real business and a thriving business, quite frankly.” – Engelbert to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel

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Adam Silver Wants More Gender Diversity

The NBA commissioner states his desire to get more women into the sports industry. The NBA currently has a 31.6 percent ratio of women in team management.

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*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

If Adam Silver has his way, 50 percent of the new incoming NBA officials will be women.

That number applies to coaches too, Silver said speaking at the Economic Club of Washington.

How do the leagues stack up?

The following numbers, outside of MLB, come from 2018 reports put together by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. MLB is the first league to have a report done on it this year.

1. NBA – 31.6% of team management are women / 37.2% of team professional admins are women

2. NFL – 22.1% of team senior admins are women / 35% of team professional admins are women

3. MLB – 28.6% of team senior admins are women / 26% of team professional admins are women

4. MLS – 26.5% of team senior admins are women / 31.6% of team professional admins are women

5. WNBA – 48.6% of team VPs and above are women / 58% of team managers to senior directors are women

6. NHL – No report done

Quotes from Silver… 

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing.”

“The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

That’s not all Silver wants to see change…

Silver, who has been adamant about getting rid of the one-and-done rule, provided some clarity as to when that might be achieved.

According to the commissioner, the 2022 NBA Draft will likely be the first one since the 2005 NBA Draft to allow high school players to go straight into the league rather than playing a season in college first.

Citing “active discussions” with the NBPA, Silver noted that they are still “a few years away.”

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