The Dallas Texans Soccer Club was formed in 1993 by Hassan Nazari, former 1978 World Cup and 1976 Olympic player for Iran. The club began with just three boys’ teams, including 54 players and two coaches. The vision was to create a club culture that would allow players to pursue their dreams to the highest level, including playing in college or professionally, but in a safe and positive environment. The vision included attracting coaches who would follow the same approach to player development, and teams that would follow the same rules and procedures, rather than having a loose collection of assorted coaches and teams following their own approach, as was prevalent in youth clubs at the time. To make the vision become reality, Nazari began adding qualified coaches, players and committed parents who shared the same philosophy.
It was also recognized that to create this club culture and team interaction, the club would need to provide a facility that allowed all of the teams to train in a common, high quality complex where the players, coaches and parents could communicate and share the experience together on a daily basis. Such an atmosphere would also create significant relationships and a feeling of belonging. The vision also required building a strong organization with knowledgeable and qualified people overseeing both the soccer operations and the business operations. In short, the club’s vision meant striving to be at the forefront of youth soccer, and to provide its players with the best opportunities possible to succeed in the sport and in life. With this vision in mind, the Dallas Texans Soccer Club was launched.
Today, through the clear vision and strong structure put in place, and quality leadership, the Dallas Texans have attracted many coaches, teams, players and entire clubs. In the Dallas Metroplex, it has grown from 3 teams to over 140 teams, with over 2000 boys and girls players, from age U7 thru U18. Nationally and internationally it has also attracted clubs to join it as divisions or affiliates. All together the club and its affiliates currently have almost 700 teams with over 18,000 boys and girls players, and over 300 coaches, both part-time and full-time. This growth has occurred by the club’s agreeing to combine with coaches and parents attracted to its philosophy and success, and not due to an organized attempt by the club simply to get big.
Dallas Texans teams have won every trophy locally and nationally, including numerous League, State, Regional and National Championships. The club has also won many tournaments in the United States, like the Disney Invitational and the Dallas Cup, as well as several prestigious tournaments around the world, such as the Gothia Cup, Iberia Cup, Dana Cup and Helsinki Cup.
Each year, almost every player on the club’s top teams goes on to play soccer in college, usually on scholarship. In addition, the Dallas Texans brand is very well known in the professional soccer community. Many of the club’s players have pursued their dream of playing professional soccer by playing abroad in some of the most successful leagues in advanced football countries such as England, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Belgium and Mexico, as well as playing in the MLS. Many of the club’s players have also represented the United States national teams at both the youth and senior levels, including the captain of the men’s team Clint Dempsey.
This success has been built on the basis of the continued enhancement of the club’s vision, which could be broken into the following categories: Coaching Development, Culture and Conduct, Team and Player Programs, Facilities, Administration/Business Model, Sponsors.
Coaching Development. The club strives to attract and retain the very best coaches for all age groups and level of player, including players who simply want to improve their abilities, those striving for a college scholarship, and those hoping to play professionally and on the national teams. The club also supports the further development of its coaches through individual mentoring, encouragement of ongoing education and licensing, Coaches Summits among all affiliates, trips to Europe to observe youth coaching practices at the leading foreign clubs like Manchester United, Ajax and FC Barcelona, and visits by coaches from those clubs for coaching seminars and team training at the Texans’ facilities. With the help of its sponsor Nike, the Texans have been fortunate to have an exclusive affiliation with Manchester United, followed by an affiliation with Atletico Madrid.
Culture and Conduct. The Dallas Texans have established codes of conduct for coaches, parents and players, and they are required to sign them each year. They are also encouraged to follow the principles and information provided by the Positive Coaching Alliance, a national organization focused on 1) using sports psychology to improve the success of players and teams, and 2) using sports to teach life lessons.
The club’s experience has shown that clear rules and consistent enforcement has led to minimal disciplinary issues over the years. In cases of conflict between a coach and a player or parent, the club has a clear process for resolution (division DOC, club DOC, board of directors), but given the quality and training of the coaches, it is rare that the coach is not able to resolve an issue directly with a player or parent.
Team and Player Programs. Texans teams participate in the leading local and national youth leagues. In addition, its teams participate in local, national and international tournaments appropriate for their skill levels. The club has also created its own large annual regional tournament of several hundred teams, as well as an international tournament for girls and an international tournament for boys and girls, based on the belief that cross-cultural events expose its players to other soccer styles and enriching personal experiences. For players interested in playing soccer in college, the club has partnered with the leading company that assists student/athletes with their college aspirations, and the club hosts an annual College Night for high school level players and their parents to help explain the college recruiting process and help players prepare their profile and application materials. In addition, the high school level coaches actively assist their players in finding the right college program for them and interacting with the college coaches on recruitment. For qualified players, the club is constantly exploring opportunities for them to participate in foreign programs and take advantage of opportunities with foreign professional clubs, in addition to exposing those players to the coaches of the Texans’ European affiliate, recognizing that the best soccer and financial opportunities for the foreseeable future will be based in Europe. The club has also established a relationship with two of the best professional agencies to assist its top players with their professional careers/pathways. Finally, the club has established a relationship with a trainer/nutritionist who provides advice on injury prevention, nutrition and training, and assists with rehabilitation of injured athletes. The club also has partnered with Children’s Medical Center to provide advice on injury prevention and concussion care, as well as to provide preferred access to physicians and hospital care for the club’s players.
Facilities. The Dallas Texans have made a significant investment in building two state-of-the-art multi-field complexes for training and tournaments, including a clubhouse with meeting rooms and coaches’ lounge, and an indoor facility with small-sided training fields, locker rooms and fitness area. Having world class soccer facilities ensures better, more efficient training (eliminating failed drills due to passes bouncing off a rock as on some city fields), as well as greater safety for the players. These facilities allow the club’s teams from U7 to U18 to train next to each other, helping realize the vision of creating relationships and a common culture, and a sense of belonging among the members of the club.
Administration/Business Model. The Dallas Texans is a non-profit organization that seeks to make the physical, mental and emotional benefits of soccer available to every child. Thus while most players’ families pay an annual fee to participate, the club manages its budget so that every team has scholarships available to players who are unable to pay. In addition, the club has been able to greatly reduce its club dues for its elite players with the help of its sponsors. The club’s soccer operations are managed by its Executive Director and a group of highly experienced Directors of Coaching for the various divisions, boys and girls. The club also has a volunteer President who is a former attorney and experienced businessman who assists with administrative and legal matters, and a volunteer Treasurer who is a CPA and experienced businessman who helps with financial matters and the annual IRS filing. The club has a full-time employed Secretary who manages the day-to-day administration and supports the team managers and coaches. These officers also form the club’s board of directors, supplemented from time to time by others, such as parents involved with tournament volunteer management. The club also engages contractors for the care of its facilities, for its website and for tournament management and travel management (domestic and international), and it maintains a relationship with the leading soccer gear provider in the Dallas area to provide its uniforms, spirit wear and related items. Finally, the club has a partnership with a large international hotel chain to help reduce the cost of accommodations when its teams travel. Each team has a parent volunteer to be manager, and sometimes a treasurer, who manage the teams’ game and travel logistics.
Sponsors. The club’s major sponsor has been Nike, which helps with the club’s gear, its tournaments, and its relationships with foreign professional clubs and other important contacts. The club has also had other key sponsors over the years such as Microsoft and Gatorade, and the club’s various vendors have also been very supportive. The club has also received support for its tournaments from the City of Farmers Branch and the City of Dallas, and for various programs from the USSF and individual donors. Nevertheless, the club is constantly seeking new sponsors and other sources of revenue so that it can keep its club dues as low as possible to allow more players and families to take advantage of the opportunities that the club provides through soccer.
As our history has illustrated, the club’s vision is being realized and our club has grown rapidly. Many would say that the mission is accomplished. However, it is the leadership’s belief that the job has just begun. The world of soccer is evolving rapidly, and there is an increasing number of opportunities available to our players, such as the possibility of playing in overseas training programs and expanding opportunities to play professionally. The club seeks to remain on the cutting edge of today’s game so that we provide a growing group of players with the opportunities they seek and so that we continue to be as successful in the future as we have been in the past.
In addition to adding new Team and Player Program opportunities, the club plans to continually enhance its Facilities. For example, it is planning to add an artificial turf field at one or both of its complexes as well as a full-size indoor field. It is also actively seeking partners to help it create a residential academy with dormitory and classroom facilities to allow its local players to have a daily soccer training program with a standard college-prep educational curriculum, and to allow quality players from around the country and from around the world (subject to the applicable restrictions) to participate in a first rate soccer/education program that may not be available in their locality.
On the business side, the club has been a leader in encouraging the USSF’s recent decision to allow Solidarity Contribution payments under the FIFA rules, whereby the club will receive a portion of the transfer fee when a former club player is transferred from one professional team to a team in a different league (e.g., MLS to the EPL). The club has also been a leader in encouraging the USSF and MLS to follow the FIFA rules for Training Compensation, or to create a similar program under which US youth clubs would be compensated when one of their former players is signed by the MLS, and perhaps when they are selected for the USSF residency program or one of the national teams. These payments to the club would allow the Texans to reduce the fees their families must pay, or allow the club to broaden the scholarship program, and possibly to add a semi-pro team that feeds into an MLS team.