Questions & Answers
WHEN WILL NISA NATION KICK OFF?
NISA is working towards a limited Spring 2021 schedule in at least two regions with play starting likely in late April or early May. We anticipate that we will have a full schedule in all regions nationwide starting in mid-August for the Fall 2021. But we are making sure to take the time to do things right. What will be most important for NISA Nation and participating clubs is the quality and energy the opportunity to develop brings. If we rush the structure, it becomes a bad experience and an opportunity lost.
HOW MANY CLUBS DO YOU SEE PARTICIPATING?
Our vision at this point is not to dwell on the exact number of clubs that will be competing in NISA Nation, but rather to concentrate on making sure that the intentions of the clubs selected matches the ideals of the league’s mission. We want to make sure that we have quality clubs in each region and can remain true to the standards and requirements that we have put in place for each member club. In some regions this may be more than others, but each will have a robust schedule of matches within their respective geographic regions. There are a lot of rivalries that can be created.
HOW MANY CLUBS CAN LEGITIMATELY MAKE THE JUMP TO PRO FROM AMATEUR?
We can’t know. But that is the mission of NISA Nation as an “incubator league.” It will give the opportunity to those clubs who want to attempt this jump, to be able to assess where they are in the process. If they are successful on the pitch, and have the wherewithal on the organizational side of the business, then they would be a good model for becoming a fully professional club.
IT’S HARD TO SAY “THIS IS TOO MUCH SOCCER,” BUT…IS THIS TOO MUCH SOCCER?
Never! Almost all the clubs that we are having conversations with already exist and play in existing leagues throughout the Country. NISA Nation is an opportunity to use the entire calendar alongside current leagues to develop clubs and players alike. England is a country of 56 million people with 92 clubs in the top four professional leagues and dozens more in the divisions below that. Certainly, the USA, with 330 million people and a growing engagement with the game, can support more than that.
WHAT’S THE RATIONALE BEHIND THE REGIONS? DOES THIS PLAY INTO THE IDEA OF BUILDING RIVALRIES?
The creation of regions serves two purposes: geographical and financial. We are committed to limiting the distance of travel to approximately 400- 500 miles at the farthest point within a sub-region. It helps minimize costs and the need for extended stay situations. It also helps develop some very compelling rivalries, including many cross-town or cross-state derbies. That makes the league more attractive, creating opportunity for more clubs to develop talent on the field and in the front office.
WHAT ARE THE BIG BARRIERS NISA NATION IS FACING OVER THE NEXT YEAR?
The obvious biggest barrier is the one we have all been facing for the past year, and that is the COVID 19 pandemic. We will ensure all events follow the return-to-play protocols NISA successfully enacted last spring. Beyond that, we feel that our biggest challenge is building awareness of a new and slightly different way for local clubs to develop talent on a much larger scale than they had before.
WITH THE EXPOSURE PLAYERS MAY GET IN NISA NATION, IS THERE A DANGER OF PRO CLUBS POACHING?
We want NISA Nation players and clubs to been seen and appreciated. If clubs develop as expected within NISA Nation, every player on a member club will become professional. We have compensation protections in place, as well as other trackable rights to players in the inevitable occurrence of larger, professional level clubs coming to call. We relish these opportunities for all our clubs and players, and we expect that the development benefits of NISA Nation will be a tremendous benefit to all involved.
IS MANAGING AMATEUR CLUBS THROUGH A PANDEMIC TOO HEAVY OF A LIFT?
Navigating the pandemic will be one of our toughest challenges as a league, as it has been for all sports worldwide. Every organization is making extraordinary efforts to ensure their players, coaches, staff, officials, and all other personnel are as safe and protected as possible. NISA Nation will follow all local and regional health and safety protocols along with our own proven protocols. We believe that each individual club is prepared to take on this challenge and develop their skills in operating a club through difficult times.
What is NISA Nation’s approach to player, coaching and club development in America?
The NISA mission is focused on player and club development in an open, merit-based system. Along the way to establishing that model, we know players and coaches will gain more opportunities for advancement. We celebrate the independence of each club’s diverse approach to developing players, coaches, business strategies and all else associated with their club.
HOW DOES ‘HOPE’ PLAY INTO THE SUCCESS OF NISA NATION?
“Hope” can mean both optimism and a lack of confidence at the same time. We are confident NISA Nation is more than a hopeful venture because we are working diligently with the NISA League, participating clubs, and amateur affiliates to be prepared for our first full season in 2021. Once established, merit, not hope, will be the measurement for advancement into the professional ranks.
HOW DOES NISA NATION FIT INTO THE MERIT-BASED MODEL OF NISA?
NISA Nation is a rung on the ladder of the NISA pyramid. Participating clubs have all expressed an interest in growth through merit. The NISA Nation model will ensure clubs that have earned promotion by virtue of their prowess on the field and the front office will continue to be successful at the next level. The NISA Pyramid shows a path for growth from affiliate leagues to NISA Nation to NISA Pro.
CAN PRO-REL EVER FIND A LIFE IN AMERICA?
NISA is a strong advocate of an independent, open system based on merit. However, NISA Nation is more focused on clubs wanting to make the leap to the professional ranks from the amateur based on merit. While we cannot see the future as to how all professional divisions of soccer in this country will be addressed, we can ensure that clubs will be given the chance to move up through the NISA system.