With his club planning to join the Premier Development League by 2014 and a major team survey circulating the net, co-founder and media head Alex Edwards of the Central Mass Cobras recently filled in the details regarding his team with New England Soccer Today’s James Paleologopoulos.
New England Soccer Today: How would you describe your role with the Cobras?
Edwards: I am one of the founders of Central Mass Cobras. I currently foresee everything web and design related, from social media to web development, as well as marketing and partnerships.
NEST: How did the club first come about?
Edwards: It was a joint proposal by myself and my co-founder, Chris Hanson, after rumors of the Hydra’s inability to continue began to arise at the beginning of last year.
NEST: In its current form, what is the Cobras organization made up of? Who’s taking part in it?
Edwards: Currently there is myself, my co-founder, and a few people on the exterior that are working in more of a consultant role at the moment who will likely be brought on once we incorporate Central Mass Cobras.
NEST: Why the PDL (4th division) instead of the National Premier Soccer League (4th division) or Bay State Soccer League (5th division)?
Edwards: We did check out the NPSL and BSSL prior to making our decision to shoot for PDL and there are numerous reasons for what we chose.
If we were to have chosen BSSL, we would have needed to begin in the lowest division of BSSL, and would have had difficulty procuring the needed finances to run the type of club we’d like to run. Furthermore, we had initially decided that we’d like to form a club where our players receive compensation, so that immediately ruled out amateur leagues such as BSSL.
As far as NPSL, we saw it as a legitimate prospect but it doesn’t have the kind of clout we’re looking for at the moment. We believe that, although the financial viability needed to sustain in the PDL is greater, it provides more exposure for our players and more excitement for our fans as it is seen as a league more strongly connected to MLS.
NEST: Comparisons to Worcester Hydra FC have been made on your website and Twitter. What is your opinion on the now-defunct PDL team? The team it fielded?
Edwards: While I don’t personally like to take jabs at others who are seeking to expand the game here in the area, I believe Hydra’s founder Phong Le was not experienced enough in the running of a soccer club to be able to create one with longevity. In a preseason interview last year, he spoke the words “You don’t have to know how to run a soccer franchise to be able to run a soccer franchise, you just need passion.” I think it’s clear you need at least a working knowledge of how to run the soccer operations of a club, as well, or hire someone who does.
We’ve also talked to both players of the Hydra and those who tried out and they did not have high praise for the coaches and staff. The general consensus was the egos of the staff often got in the way. They finished a respectable mid-table, but one has to wonder if it was more a result of sheer talent on the squad or if it was due to their coaching.
All in all, we wish Phong and the Hydra the best as they are doing their part to expand the beautiful game here in Massachusetts and no one can fault them for their passion. I just think we can improve upon their showing as both a team and a club here in Central Massachusetts.
(Editor’s note: Phong Le did not respond to our request for comment regarding the above.)
NEST: What goals are the Cobras currently setting for themselves?
Edwards: I believe the community will dictate what the aspirations of the Cobras will be far as the league is concerned. If support for the club is immense and we start pumping out years that are well into the black financially, it may behoove us to jump into USL Pro. MLS aspirations, however, would be borderline delusional for us, as I highly doubt anyone is going to unseat the Krafts and their domain here in Massachusetts as it relates to the pro game.
Our personal aspiration is just to provide the best on field product and the best fan experience that we possibly can. We’ll use social media in some of the unique ways pioneered by the new management of Manchester City, we’ll provide multilingual gameday assistance, and we’ll enable the most dedicated of our fans to reap the benefits of their dedication with our supporter’s club, the Snake Pit. We believe a healthy fan/team relationship is all about getting back what you’re willing to put in, and I don’t believe many teams follow what I consider to be a golden rule of team management. The fan voice should always be closest to the ear of management, and management should always be listening.
NEST: 2014 is in the distance but can you hint at where the Cobras might set up their headquarters or play?
Edwards: Business headquarters will likely be in Marlborough, MA, where the founders are most comfortable with. There are a few places we’re looking at to play, with the two leading contenders likely being Foley Stadium in Worcester and Kelleher Field in Marlborough. Both have all the amenities necessary to house a PDL team.
NEST: What is your opinion on New England soccer in general?
Edwards: I believe that as with the rest of the country, interest is rising since the last World Cup. I believe that the strong South American communities here in central Massachusetts bring along their passion for the game with them, and that’s a largely uncultivated passion as far as creating a team is concerned, another thing I’m not sure the Hydra did effectively. Our central Massachusetts is home to some of the largest city youth organizations in both the state and the country. It’s a bit unfortunate that the owners of our only pro team seem a bit apathetic toward the squad. With a little effort I believe the Revs could really take a strong hold on the market here. They may never eclipse the Patriots or the Red Sox, but you can chalk that up to the former being America’s most watched sport and the latter being America’s pastime.
I’d really like to see soccer in New England continue to grow, and that’s the driving reason behind the Cobras.