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Youth soccer insurgency? Kleibans launch Las Vegas coaching summit

On July 24, around 40 coaches from all over the United States and Canada gathered at the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas for the first-ever 3four3 Coaching Summit, a chance to listen to some of the brightest minds in coaching and player development discuss the intricacies of their craft.

The LA Galaxy academy’s Mike Munoz talked about training periodization. Former La Liga coach and scout Hans Schonhofer explained how to structure and run a club from the Under-7 team all the way to the professional level. And 3four3’s own Brian Kleiban (pictured above), who has joined the Galaxy academy staff after a fruitful stint in charge of the now-defunct Chivas USA youth program, talked about scouting, recruiting and retaining young players.

But the coaches that were in attendance at the summit wanted more than just coaching advice; they wanted the chance to meet each other and swap stories, says conference organizer and youth soccer coach John Pranjic.

+READ: MIC test: Chivas USA U-14s shine in Spanish tourney, push Barcelona to final whistle

“A lot of the coaches feel like they’re fighting a true uphill battle, but they feel like they’re really fighting by themselves,” Pranjic told SoccerWire. “But to get a lot of these guys in the same room was really what they were looking for.”

The coaches in attendance also represented a diverse array of experiences and levels, including everything from U-8 AYSO coaches to coaches of U-18 premier level clubs to technical directors of large youth soccer programs.

Mike_Munoz_HeadshotHowever, the one thing that all those coaches have in common is a desire to implement 3four3’s possession-oriented philosophy and teach their young players – both boys and girls – what it takes to train and compete at a professional level.

Brian’s brother Gary Kleiban, the public voice of 3four3, says that this shared mission helped bring together the summit attendees.

“It was very communal, like-minded people who are isolated in their own respective states or cities coming together and feeling at home,” he told SoccerWire.

That’s the wider goal: unite serious, passionate soccer educators from across the U.S. and around the world.

+READ: U.S. Soccer coaching development department implementing significant changes

Conceived over dinner after a Chivas USA academy training session, the recent summit began its life as the brainchild of Gary Kleiban, Pranjic, and another youth coach.

“We sat there for like, four hours, and the topic of doing a 3four3 conference came up,” recalled Kleiban.

John Pranjic“I’m like, ‘Great, yeah, I’ve been wanting to do something like that for a long time, but I just don’t have the time. If one of you guys wants to take the lead or both of you guys take the lead, go for it. Make s*** happen and I’ll support it and bring whatever it is that I can bring to the table along with it.’”

Emboldened by Kleiban’s promise of support, Pranjic immediately set out to make the 3four3 summit different from other coaching conferences on the market.

“We knew right away that we weren’t going to have something where people were going to have big booths there and handing out free protein bars and little shoe backpacks and things like that,” Pranjic said. “We wanted serious soccer people to show up and get an education.”

Judging by the feedback that Kleiban and Pranjic have since shared on social media, the first edition more than exceeded expectations.

3four3 summit“I tried to create something that I would want to attend and that I felt like I would gain a lot of value from,” Pranjic reflected. “And looking back, I do think that we as a team, 3four3 as a team, did exactly that. All the feedback we’ve gotten has been nothing but rave reviews and thank yous. So that to me is a testament that we built something that was perfect for our customer base.”

A self-described cynic, Gary Kleiban was left equally bullish.

“After we left the conference, I felt that [the attendees] were even more energized and had a renewed sense of energy to go over there and kick some ass and implement the things that they believe in,” he said, “which is our possession-based philosophy instead of just putting 11 players out on the field and seeing what happens.”

+READ: Lessons Learned: Consistent themes emerge at 2014 NSCAA Convention

The first 3four3 summit, though, is only the beginning of an ambitious plan to expand the organization’s brand and reach.

Pranjic says that in addition to more conferences and camps – the inaugural 3four3 soccer camp was held in San Diego in July – the future will also bring new content on the 3four3 blog, an official 3four3 podcast, and a stronger 3four3 presence across social media platforms.

3four3 San Diego“The three- to five-year timeline is really [about] growing a vision of something much, much bigger and reaching a bigger audience, but also the right audience too,” Pranjic said. “We don’t want to just open it up to the mass market and attract all of the soccer people. We want the right people and the right customers to come to us.

“And still, that market is large enough where in the next three to five years we’ll be making a pretty big impact – more than we already are now – on the American soccer community.”

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