The American United Soccer League (USL) will bring international teams to Bermuda for seven games this summer and host Bermuda players in matches overseas, under a new partnership between FC Bascome Bermuda, National Sports Centre, Grotto Bay Beach Resort and Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).
The initiative leverages the relationship between North America’s fast-growing professional soccer organisation and Bermuda’s FC Bascome football club, which will play in the USL Two Mid Atlantic Division starting this year.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Bermudian soccer, for our tourism industry, and for Bermuda as a whole,” said Hazel Clark, the BTA’s Director of Sports Business Development. “We thank FC Bascome for creating this opportunity and driving this project forward, offering young men exposure to potential college scholarships and professional Major League Soccer (MLS) opportunities. There’s no doubt that some of our young people will dream a little bigger today.”
Sanctioned by the US Soccer Federation, the USL is the largest professional soccer organisation in North America, bringing the sport to communities across the United States, Canada and associated jurisdictions. Overseeing the USL Championship (USSF Division II), USL League One (USSF Division III), and USL League Two (Pre-Professional), the Tampa, FL-based organisation counts more than 125 clubs in its membership.
“Given the age focus of 17 to 23 years, playing in the USL League Two can be an essential platform for Bermudians to transition to the next stage of their football careers,” explained FC Bascome Bermuda Co-Founder and Head Coach, Andrew Bascome. “Our primary goal is to develop the local football community, but we recognise we can also provide an entertainment outlet for Bermuda and Bermuda football fans.
“We believe in our product and are appreciative of the support we are receiving from sponsors like the Grotto Bay Resort, and are especially grateful for the backing we have received from Day One from Hazel Clark and the team at the BTA and partners like the National Sports Centre.”
Seven home matches for the Bermuda team against visiting USL counterparts are scheduled at the National Sports Centre, Devonshire: starting May 9 (Philadelphia Lone Star); May 27 (Ocean City Nor’easters); June 3 (Reading United); June 16 (West Chester United); June 30 and July 1 (Evergreen Hammers); and July 7 (Lehigh Valley United).
“The team at the National Sports Centre is excited about the opportunity to have the USL feature at our facility during the inaugural season of FC Bascome,” said Craig Tyrell, Senior Vice President, Operations Manager, National Sports Centre. “We trust the players, coaches and spectators will enjoy the games, and we will do our part by preparing the grounds, and in association with the football club, ensuring everyone has a first-rate experience.”
The seven home matches will bring 840 participants to Bermuda this summer, generating an estimated $ $1,1178,144.34 in spending and amounting to a total 637 hotel rooms. Under the partnership, Grotto Bay will host the visiting teams and offer spectator rates for supporters from overseas.
“The entire Grotto Bay team looks forward to hosting overseas teams and spectators,” said JP Martens, General Manager of the resort. “We wish to thank Mr. Calderon and his team as well as the BTA for all their efforts in bringing the USL to Bermuda”
The initiative aligns with the National Tourism Plan and goals of the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s sports business development strategy. These include creating positive economic benefits for Bermuda by attracting sports groups and events; showcasing the island’s sports credibility and capabilities; collaborating with local stakeholders; and using sport to positively impact our community.
Away matches will take place in the US May 17 (against West Chester United); May 19 (Philadelphia Lone Star); June 7 (Evergreen Hammers); June 10 (Lehigh Valley United); June 12 and 14 (Reading United; and July 12 (Ocean City Nor’easters).
“This partnership accomplishes all those objectives,” said Clark, “and we’re excited to continue working with our valued partners, here and overseas, to ensure its success.”
PHOTO CAPTION: From left: Richard Calderon, General Manager, FC Bascome Bermuda; JP Martens, General Manager, Grotto Bay Beach Resort; Hazel Clark, Director of Sports Business Development, BTA; Andrew Bascome, Co Founder, FC Bascome Bermuda; and Craig Tyrell, Senior Vice President, Operations Manager, National Sports Centre
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