An Uber with a heavyweight boxer, a meeting with a Hypersexual Electrosoul band, a chat with an England legend and sightings of various other soccer stars, including past and present USMNT coaches – it could only be in Los Angeles.
GoPlay Tours made their third trip to the NSCAA Convention earlier this month and on the vibrant West Coast of America it did not disappoint with chance meetings, established connections and new contacts all pointing to our most successful trip to date.
The LA Convention Centre in Downtown provided the perfect venue, and forget the scaremongering from soccer’s East Coast, because people came, saw, connected and were inspired.
Usually an East Coast event, there were fears LA would fall flat on it’s face, but LA delivered. 2017 provided the annual soccer coaching get together with their second highest attendance in the event’s 71-year history. Only last year’s Baltimore jamboree topped the estimated 10,500 attendance.
Over 6,500 coaches came saw, connected and learnt more about the beautiful game and GoPlay loved every minute chatting to MLS first-round draft picks Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel to congratulating the All-American kids on Saturday afternoon.
GoPlay’s annual launch party on Wednesday night was ideally located at Tom’s Urban – a haunt the majority of the convention attendees got to know well by the end of the weekend. Almost 200 guests joined us for free drinks with ACIS President Peter Jones addressing the noisy crowd with his plans for 2017 and beyond.
Our new partnership with Celtic’s International Soccer Academy was announced and our guest was the Hoops’ NSCAA star clinician Willie McNab, who had an early start on Thursday presenting a session on the ‘Celtic FC Way’.
We also ventured into sponsorship of the annual Saturday night coaches 4×4, which went off without a hitch, bar an odd broken hoarding or so.
But it will be our chance meetings and valued connections which we will take away from LA.
Meanwhile, an opportunity to mix with the Hollywood uber-cools was too good a chance to pass up and GoPlay headed to west Hollywood’s Soho House.
The private members club did not disappoint with a venue overlooking Sunset Boulevard and while they might have recently rejected Kobe Bryant – the door staff were only to happy to allow GoPlay’s English, Irish and American contingent.
There is no photography in this place to protect the place’s vibrant crowd.
Famous England striker Lineker was hanging out and after a brief chat the BBC soccer presenter wished us well – our cue to leave him alone. A short, but polite chat, which will be more memorable to us than him.
We also came across 260lbs heavyweight boxer Johnny Rice via an Uber ride home. A man who recently sparred with Dominic Breazeale, Rice was an engaging host on the way back to Downtown. Eloquent and confident the big man told us how he feared nobody and that undefeated UK star Anthony Joshua was no match for himself.
We wrapped the night up with our 12th burrito of the weekend – there’s no denying the Mexican influence in the City of Angels. And after bringing down the curtain on another convention we headed to Santa Monica.
A walk along to Venice Beach was capped off by a Blue Moon or two at Ye Olde Kings Head and there we bumped into a couple from the band Low Country Kingdom. Who you might say? Well with some luck these guys are going to be big – they deserve it after accepting our hospitality.
After four days of soccer, soccer, soccer it was a refreshing chance to not talk shop and these electrosoul dudes were great company. Let’s hope they don’t forget us when they’ve made it big – we certainly won’t.
Thanks LA. It was a blast and we look forward to doing the same in Philly in 2018.