I got to speak to a group of US college coaches gathered in Iceland on February 2nd. I spoke about soccer in Iceland and then gave them some advice on how to approach Icelandic players differently than US players.
Following are the main points:
- College is free in Iceland – parents don´t save for college so there is no college fund
- Icelandic student loan fund has low interests but many Icelandic students try to avoid it by working alongside college or staying at home with parents
- Reasons for going include obtaining education, experiencing adventure and every Icelandic player has an ambition to become better and sees this as one way
- Know your customer – their reason for coming is different than for US players
- Respect their club – the clubs are losing their players with a sizeable portion of the season left in August. Have to replace the players somehow. Most players have grown up within their clubs.
- Clubs were negative until 6-10 years ago. Now the attitude is mainly positive. Colleges can keep it that way by maintaining a good relationship with the clubs and helping the players become better. It is important they come back to Iceland in the summer match fit so they can keep up with the season.
- Icelandic players are amateur players hoping for big breaks. They generally think about a next step once college is over.
- They have mandatory contracts with their clubs for insurance and partial reimbursement of costs. This must be understood by US leagues and not confused with professional contracts.