Global Brands

Drinking high gravity beer at high altitude is never a good idea. You get a killer hangover and act in a way that makes you embarrassed. That’s unless you were in Denver last week with a bunch of coaches who have the personality of a polystyrene plate. I find a Weight Watchers commercial more interesting than those fucks.

That’s right, I drank every day last week. It’s the only way I could get through being in the same proximity as these plastic cone collectors.

I would turn up to coaching sessions – with my brain still feeling the effects of nuclear testing and my mouth as dry as sand paper – to be met by instructors who coached college. Not pro-teams, just college. Oh wait, there was Bob Gansler, the ex-Kansas City Wizards and US national team coach. In lectures, this old fart kept talking about Preki and Mo Johnston as if they were Carlos Alberto and Pele. They played MLS until they were 40 plus (Preki and Mo Johnston that is) so I really can’t give a fuck about them Bob.

One night the NSCAA held a party for everyone. Beer and snacks were laid on but there was no disco ball or charlie in the toilets. At the “party” which had no music but instead played MLS DVDs on the big screen, I met some guy from The Rapids. We get talking and he tells me about Arsenal’s link with the Rapids, how Wenger is trying to sign some 17 year old. He also told me that Steven Morrow, the ex-Arsenal and QPR midfielder – who recently got fired as FC Dallas head coach – is now working for the Gunners in the central America region. His official title is Performance Supervisor. He manages all of the international partnerships that Arsenal have around the world.

Who are these partnerships? Well, the Colorado Rapids is one partnership. Another two are BEC Tero of Thailand and Hoang Anh Gia Lai of Vietnam. There’s Arsenal academies in Egypt and Ghana, with Mr. Morrow trying to set more up in Central America.

So what’s the deal with these partnerships? Well, in Vietnam, Hoang Anh Gia are the main distributor of Arsenal merchandise in Southeast Asia. Arsenal run their academies and get first pick on any exciting players in the region. Ditto, Bec Tero, the Thai team, who have made significant changes to it’s emblem and team jerseys so that they resemble Arsenal.

The Rapids guy told me that Everton are trying to make big strides in California. Chelsea donate hundreds and thousands of dollars to Capital Area Soccer League one of the largest and most successful youth soccer clubs in the US – based in North Carolina. Manchester United have a similar deal with another US club youth team, while Barcelona are still trying to buy Miami FC.

What we are witnessing my friends is the global race among big professional European clubs to spread their tentacles in an attempt to market their brand and to sign the best young talent. Helping them with this, are the sports manufacturers Adidas, Nike and Puma. Chelsea have summer camps in the US sponsored by Adidas. All MLS clothing is made by Adidas. NSCAA is also sponsored by Adidas.

Back in my day, RUN DMC wore Adidas and the Beastie Boys wore Puma. Times have changed. In 10 years time my beer will be Adidas. Fuck my deodorant already is.

Anyway, as the lame party became more lame, I found myself alone getting hammered. It was the only way I could face sharing a room with some guy who snores and who I don’t know from Adam. So I waddled back to my student/prison accommodation, swiped my card which was around my neck and stumbled inside. I passed out on the kitchen floor only to wake up in the middle of the night to puke up in the tumble dryer. That went down well with my fellow “coaches” the next day.

I thought it was a fitting end to the evening.

Arsenal

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