SFIA Takes On 2019 United Soccer Coaches Convention… And Here’s What We Thought
SFIA just returned from the United Soccer Coaches Convention, where we faced the brutal chill of the Windy City. However, it was worth the trip. This year’s soccer show hosted a record number of attendees and about 400 exhibitors on the show floor. With products ranging from apparel to footwear to equipment, the overall interest and enthusiasm is good news for the industry. Many Americans feared America’s exclusion from the 2018 World Cup and declining outdoor soccer participation numbers were signs of the demise of U.S. soccer, BUT the decision to award America with the 2026 World Cup bid seems to have increased excitement about soccer in the states.
On Thursday, our first day walking through the exhibition floor, it was quite lively — heavy foot traffic and lots of conversation. Each booth seemed to be very busy, as the guests were interested in, and engaged with, the products and companies on display. However, Friday seemed to be a little slower, likely due to the fact that many of the attendees were in sessions, which were occurring all throughout the day.
Overall, there were a few very interesting things that set this year apart from years prior. First, there were definitely more international companies on the show floor. This could be due to increased opportunity for soccer products in the United States, as it is a major initiative to rebuild soccer participation and interest. Second, the bigger name brands, such as Nike, adidas and Under Armour, did not exhibit year. (Note: This was the first year that we had attended and Under Armour was not represented in any way on the floor. Nike and adidas have been missing from a few of the past shows.) Lastly, other major industry companies, like Kwik Goal, moved its exhibit from the main floor to the demo booth area.
All of these changes, and the general consensus of show, represent the tumultuous, yet exciting times the soccer industry is experiencing. After many one-on-one conversations with SFIA members who were exhibiting and other industry leaders, we learned that many brands in the business did not have a great year, as they are working to reinvigorate the soccer audience, but there were also a handful who were doing quite well.
And with that… We’ll see how things wind up next year in Baltimore!