CONCACAF Cup about more than international event

As the CONCACAF Gold Cup contests unfolded at University of Phoenix Stadium July 20, behind the scene, the international soccer community was doing more to address the youth and increasing participation in the sport.

Allstate, along with former US National Team members Adolfo Rios and Brad Friedel, was holding clinics and field restoration to give Arizona fans access to the sport they have represented for more than 20 years.

They also were building and improving soccer fields throughout the state in an attempt to increase participation in the sport.

“This is the second year Allstate is sponsoring the Gold Cup and they have done amazing things to help us improve the sport in the United States,” said Friedel during a recent interview. “Without them and the support they have given to soccer, we would not have the progress in increasing the presence of this sport in the U.S.”

Friedel played in 82 games for the US National Men’s Soccer team between 1992 and 2005, along with playing professionally in England, Germany and the United States. He holds the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances, with 310 in his career.

“I don’t really miss playing, because I was lucky enough to have a long career and I am coaching the Under-19 team and I get the same buzz and feeling that I did as a player,” Friedel said. “Now, my goal is to help build this sport, because it is such a beautiful and amazing sport, to the youth in the U.S.”

Prior to matches at University of Phoenix Stadium July 20, Allstate helped refurbish soccer fields in Arizona by repairing grass, goals, installing benches and more at a numerous soccer fields for local youth soccer players.

“This is such an amazing thing for Allstate to volunteer to do for areas around the country, I am just so proud to be an ambassador for it,” Friedel said.

Following the refurbishment, local players will be invited to test out their new upgraded facilities during a special goalkeeping clinic hosted by Friedel and Rios.

“To see the looks on the kids’ faces when the fields are done, that makes it all worth it and I enjoy being out there and teaching them skills after everything is done” Friedel said.

Friedel also said he was excited to bring the Gold Cup trophy to underprivileged areas while trying to get them to “Protect the Cup” and building excitement in the event.

Allstate gave fans the opportunity to interact and take photos with the coveted Gold Cup trophy at the Allstate Protection Zone ahead of the matches at University of Phoenix Stadium. Fans were encouraged to use hashtags, #PROTECTTHECUP and #PROTEGALACOPA, on social media where they shared pictures of the trophy.

“This is such an amazing event and great chance to see international soccer; I enjoy letting fans see and touch the Gold Cup when we are out giving the clinics,” Friedel said. “Getting them involved in soccer long-term, that is the main project of this event, and we want to reach out to all edges of the U.S. to get them involved and get as many kids to play as possible. We need to do that to get them interested in the sport.”

Friedel said the Gold Cup has been such a success, and he enjoys when it comes to Arizona, that the fans’ reaction has been strong and one of the best at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“In each of the areas we have done this, the reaction and response from the fans has been amazing,” Friedel said. “They have all been so thankful for Allstate bringing in or refurbishing fields and making the surfaces safe for kids to play on. Plus, the fans here in Arizona have really shown the growth and love of the sport.”

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