Operating as ‘British Soccer Camps’, Challenger Sports began running soccer programs in Kansas, America in 1985, they were a division of All American Indoor Sports Inc. who operated a number of multi-purpose indoor soccer facilities and were owned by Ron Matsch and Jim Jorgensen. Ron and Jim also founded the internationally successful Discovery Zone Inc., an indoor playground and entertainment franchise for children.
The ‘British Soccer Camps’ program quickly grew throughout the Midwest, expanding into Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia, whilst at the same time establishing a reputation for delivering quality coaching with a unique British cultural twist.
British Soccer Camps, 2006
On October 1, 1997 Ron Matsch, Jim Jorgensen, Peter Arch and Alan Jones acquired the operations of ‘British Soccer Camps’ and created Challenger Sports. Gearing up for nationwide growth and for further expansion into other elements of the soccer industry, Challenger Sports quickly recruited Paul Lawrence and Derek Shoare who at the time were President and Vice President of the largest soccer camp company in the United States.
Challenger built a quality team of full-time Regional Soccer Directors, and within two years had established a network of offices throughout the United States. Challenger also invested heavily in the United Kingdom and were the first United States-based soccer company to set up a full-time recruitment and training operation in Britain.
Challenger’s investment was quickly rewarded as the British Soccer Camp program grew by over 47 percent in 1998 and then grew a further 71 percent in 1999. Since then, the company has continued to grow steadily each year, and Challenger now runs over 3,500 soccer camps for over 120,000 3–16 year old children each summer, coaching a further 50,000 players on the rapidly expanding year-round Challenger Academy program.
In 2001 Challenger established a sister company to manufacture and sell soccer uniforms directly to the United States soccer community. By eliminating several stages of the traditional importer/wholesaler/retailer chain, Challenger Teamwear is able to go direct-to-market with an incredible uniform at a fantastic price.
TetraBrazil Camp, 2011
Challenger Sports acquired the TetraBrazil Soccer Academy in October 2009. TetraBrazil, based out of Rio de Janeiro, has been providing unique Brazilian style coaching to players in the US for over 10 years. TetraBrazil coaches in America and Canada are all Brazilian and the camp program helps US youngsters learn the skills, moves and tactics that have made Brazil the most successful soccer nation of all time.
Challenger coordinates the sales and operations of the TetraBrazil program in the USA and has an office in Rio de Janeiro handling curriculum development, coach recruitment, professional training and player identification and representation.
2010 saw Challenger Sports enhance its already popular Camps program for 3–4 year olds by enlisting the support of specialist childcare professionals to create a bespoke pre-school program. Focusing on the education of key childhood development areas, TinyTykes (or MiniKickers as known in the USA and Canada) uses the medium of soccer to teach fundamental skills whilst children experience soccer for the first time. After a successful 9-month trial in Kansas City, Challenger has since been training over 100 coaches each year to roll the TinyTykes program out through its network of regional offices across America and Canada. TinyTykes is currently Challenger’s fastest growing program and is already being delivered to over 5,000 children.
2010 also saw Challenger link up with international football freestyler John Farnworth to deliver a trial Freestyle Camp in Kansas City, the week saw almost 100 children pass through this specialist camp. John has continued camps each summer and Challenger now operate them in 3 US States.
John Farnworth Freetstyle Soccer Camp, 2011
Challenger now finds itself with a nationwide network of clubs, coaches, players and parents, and a broad base of soccer products and services that just about covers anything you could wish to find in the soccer world. Challenger Sports really is the “Total Soccer Company” and through its new Franchise Head Office in Britain is ready to work with a new family of franchisees to step from being the largest soccer coaching company in America to one of the largest in the world!