The San Francisco Glens visit the KSV Holstein

Kiels mayor Ulf Kämpfer invited Mike McNeill (Executive Director of SF Glens, left) und Wolfgang Schwenke (Commercial Manager of KSV Holstein) in the city hall.

Wolfgang Schwenke, Commercial Manager of KSV Holstein, and Mike McNeill, Executive Director of San Francisco Glens, signed a partnership agreement in the summer of 2019. The Storks immediately invigorated the collaboration during their visit to California: the red, white & blue delegation included two trainers from the youth academy of the 2. Bundesliga club (NLZ). The potential of the partnership inspired McNeill and the four U17 players from the USL League Two club.

Just like KSV, Glens is very committed to promoting young talent. According to McNeill, its training academy is one of the top 162 in the United States. “We’re already competing with top-division clubs.” Four Glens players from last season made the MLS, two of whom were picked in the first round – this speaks volumes to the special quality of these players.

Contrary to Germany, no money is paid for such a player transfer in the American system. Which is why, according to McNeill, the Glens have set a medium-term goal to move up to the MLS. His club entered into a partnership with KSV to benefit from the experience of European professional clubs. McNeill reveals that a great deal of persuasion was necessary. It was particularly challenging to convince the parents of the young athletes that the professional structure of the European soccer system could serve as a role model. “I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with a club like KSV,” says McNeill. “Such a partnership is unheard of at this point in the US.”

McNeill: Such a partnership is unheard of at this point in the US

Trainers from the KSV NLZ youth academy will regularly work with athletes from the Glens Academy, and the young kickers will benefit from a “soccer exchange” in Kiel. Take, for example, Kevin Estrada, Diego Grande, Xander Sagatelyan, and Declan O’Flynn from Glens U17, who stayed with host families and went to a German high school during a week-long trip to Kiel. Clad in red, white, & blue, the dress of their host club, they had the occasion to join a test match of the KSV U17 team against the talents of the region playing in the U18 regional team. “It was a very special experience for us,” said Xander Sagatelyan, who arrived one day ahead of the Glens team to witness live the home match of KSV Holstein against Hannover 96 in a sold-out Holstein Stadium.

The four young athletes also took a break from training to spectate when they attended the home match of Hamburger SV against Erzgebirge Aue and the Champion’s League home game of THW Kiel against the Belarusian handball champions HC Meshov Brest. The Mayor of Kiel, Ulf Kämpfer, made time for a photo opportunity with the American guests on the balcony of the Kiel city hall, not coincidentally the location where KSV Holstein players celebrated their historic ascent to the 2. Bundesliga at the end of the 2016/17 season. “I am very pleased the Glens have so quickly brought life to this partnership,” says Schwenke, who has already announced the next steps for the partnership. The Storks, for example, will be playing at the training camp in San Francisco to prepare for the 2020/21 season. “Up the Glens” and “Kiel Ahoi” then!

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