German second-tier side KSV Holstein, also known as Holstein Kiel, is striking out in a new direction: A delegation from Kiel is flying to the United States on June 23 to sign a partnership agreement with the San Francisco Glens. Wolfgang Schwenke, commercial director of the KSV, will be accompanied on this roughly two-week-long trip to the Pacific Coast by, among others, youth coaches Dominik Glawogger and Christian Riecks, who will be training the ambitious USL League Two side’s young talents at a summer camp. “We’ve been contemplating for quite some time about what path to take internationally, and how to spread out our feelers into the very interesting American market,” says Schwenke. “And with the Glens, we’ve found a club that wants to live out this partnership in the same way as us, and who has the same values as us when it comes to youth development and training.”
The Germans’ visit to California and the city with a population of 800,000 is just the beginning of this partnership: mutual visits from youth team players and coaches, exchanges of knowledge and ideas, training and development for the Glens at soccer camps from a KSV coach, as well as a training camp on the West Coast of the U.S. for the KSV’s first team are all planned for the coming year. Also on the schedule for the trip to San Francisco are company visits to Silicon Valley, an exchange of ideas with players, coaches and officials at various clubs in California, as well as establishing new contacts in the world’s biggest sports market.
The framework for this partnership was marked out more than two years ago in the foundation of the association “The Bay Areas e.V.”, which wants to start a town twinning partnership between Kiel and San Francisco on various levels. The aim was to connect people in both cities and their respective regions. Holstein Kiel, still in the German third tier at the time, joined the association immediately. “The idea excited us at the KSV straight away,” says Schwenke who, with the support of partners Puma, the Wacken Foundation and Denkler & Wulf, saw the opportunity for the club to play a German-American one-two with the San Francisco Glens, and so to contribute to the town twinning partnership in its own way. An expression of this new relationship is a joint jersey, which will be worn by the about 80 young players at the soccer camp. “This new partnership is historic for us. It’s our first step abroad,” says Schwenke, explicitly thanking Steffen Kraus (CAUSA CONCILIO) and Marco Siegmund (SECTARI Consulting) for their support. “The KSV would never have been able to realize this project without them.”
On their US trip, the delegation from Kiel also plans to meet London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco, and be received at the German Consulate General. “Soccer plays an important role in California,” says Hans Ulrich Südbeck, Consul General. “The collaboration between the two clubs is a fantastic example of how the town-twinning agreement can bring people from both countries together. I’m also delighted that this partnership has become part of the Year of German-American Friendship in the U.S., the motto for which is Wunderbar Together.”
A strong town-twinning partnership thrives on the partners collaborating in many areas and learning from each other, according to Ulf Kämpfer, Mayor of Kiel. “Kiel and San Francisco have achieved great success – in important topics for the future like climate protection and digitalization, for example.” As the mayor and a Holstein fan, he’s particularly excited that the club is now helping fill this partnership with even more life.
After competing in the local amateur leagues since 1961, the Glens gained promotion last year with their senior team to the USL League Two. That’s where you’ll find most of the Under-23 players who don’t yet have a professional contract and who are generally still attending college alongside playing soccer. This division has become the most important training ground for Major League Soccer (MLS), the top tier in America. More than 70 percent of newcomers selected by MLS clubs in their annual SuperDraft have played in USL League Two in the past.
After just one year in the new division, four Glens players were drafted by MLS teams. Similarly to Holstein Kiel, the Glens have set themselves ambitious targets: in the long term, the club wants to be promoted to the MLS via USL League One and the USL Championship. Unlike in Germany, clubs have to pay a fee to gain promotion. As an example, promotion from League Two to League One is expected to cost half a million dollars. More than 1,000 young players wear the Glens green and white uniforms, making the KSV’s new partner the biggest club in San Francisco.
Mike McNeill, Executive Director of the San Francisco Glens: “We are excited to enter this partnership with Holstein Kiel. With over 70 teams and 1,300 players, we look forward to hosting our sister city club. We believe this will be a beneficial relationship for both clubs and cities – on the field and off of it. We are honored that a great club with so much history such as Holstein Kiel wants to build a relationship with us.”
San Francisco Glens:
Wolf Paarmann, Press Officer, Holstein Kiel (email@example.com)
Ryan Maquiñana, Dir. of Communications, San Francisco Glens SC (firstname.lastname@example.org)