Over the summer, UCFB students have been gaining valuable work experience at football clubs across the US as part of a multi-year partnership with the USL, working in a range of areas including marketing, media, coaching and events.

We spoke with Joan Sospedra, an MSc Sport Management student at UCFB Wembley, about the highlights from his time at South Georgia Tormenta FC where he worked as Hispanic Content Manager and Finance Assistant for three months…

Tell us about your role at Tormenta FC over the summer. What were your responsibilities and what did you achieve during your time there?

The Hispanic population in the United States is above 15%. This is why Tormenta FC had the need to start taking actions to attract this segment of the population and, for these reasons, the club decided to take me on as Hispanic content management. The first two days, the club gave me the total freedom to create a strategic plan to make the club known in the Hispanic market. After two days, my plan was accepted and I began to implement Spanish in the club's main social networks and website. Spanish translations were available on Tormenta FC Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Also, a Spanish tab on the club’s website includes general club and academy information, as well as schedules for both teams and news.

Tormenta FC became the first USL League One club to implement a Spanish online presence for its Hispanic fanbase and it has been a great success for the club, achieving a total of approximately 300 new Hispanic followers.

Tell us about Tormenta’s season.

The club consists of two main teams in addition to the academy.

First, the professional team competed in USA's third-best division - USL League One. During my stay, the team remained between first and second place. Without a doubt a great team with important players.

Secondly, the USL League Two team. This league is mainly made up of the best college players in the country and only lasts three months. Storm FC gave me the opportunity to travel to all of the team's games, making me part of the team's great successes. First, the team led the regular Deep South Division by qualifying for the Southern Conference playoffs for the second year in a row. Then, the team became champion of the Southern Conference for the first time in history. A huge success for the club and the entire community. 

What were the highlights and most memorable things about the placement for you?

If there's one thing I have to highlight about these months, it's the home match days. The club is one of the main features of the city and when you play at home, much of Statesboro comes to support your club. We organised everything perfectly and the club's 20 workers performed our role to a really high level - an awesome experience not only for the fans but also for all the staff. On a personal level, the tasks I did during the match were to update and publish the main facts of the match on social networks in Spanish.

Joan: "Home match days are an awesome experience not only for the fans but also for all the staff."

Tell us about the skills you have been able to develop and enhance in the role.

Although I already had experience with social networks as I worked as marketing and communications director for a company that I founded together with a Masters partner at UCFB, these three months have given me a totally different approach to what I was used to. In the USA, everything that revolves around marketing is massive and to see how a small club creates high-quality content on a daily basis is impressive. This has made me learn a lot of new strategies around all social networks. 

How do you think the role can benefit your future career? Has it been valuable for networking and building contacts for example?

I think this role will help me in future work related to the internationalization of any European club. The fact that I've been in the United States for three months is something that has given me an international knowledge of football that can benefit any club. On the other hand, it has opened doors for me to be able to potentially work at an MLS club in the future. At the moment, in one month I will finish the MSc Sport Management course and I am already looking for a job. Thanks to this experience, I have been able to contact MLS clubs and am currently in a selection process for a role at an important club in the league.

What do you make of the partnership between UCFB and the USL? How is it unique and special, and what does it offer to students?

He has benefited greatly from this partnership and I know that my partner Sam in Tormenta FC and other partners in other clubs as well. You often think that all football is concentrated in the big European leagues but, on the other side of the sea, In the United States, it's impressive how soccer is growing and without a doubt, smaller leagues like USL are the ones that drive this growth from the bottom up. 

As a UCFB student, I couldn't be more grateful for this great opportunity and this partnership certainly benefits the entire student community. In the American leagues, they need European people with knowledge of football and UCFB is the perfect link.

How is soccer developing and growing in the US? Can it ever compete with the well-established traditional sports like NFL, basketball and baseball?

Although women's football in the United States has always been a global example, on the men's side it has never been. In view of the large monetary amounts that this sport moves far above any other sport, EU aware of it allocates many resources to this industry being very likely that the desired results will be achieved.

Today it is very difficult to compare soccer in the United States with the three sports kings: NFL, basketball and baseball but, everything is doing very well from the formative categories to the professional leagues therefore, it would be expected that in the medium / long term soccer could compete with these other sports.