Charlie Davies' career in professional soccer took him around the world, now he's looking to provide that same opportunity for young players in the Granite State.
Growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire, Charlie Davies could only dream of the countries and places soccer would take him.
Now, the United States Men’s National Team veteran – who in addition to a career that saw him play professionally both in Europe and the United States as well as at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa – is working to help bring those dreams to life for players across his home state.
As one of the investors in an ownership group currently working to bring a USL League One club to New Hampshire beginning in 2022, the opportunity to provide a platform for the next generation was simply too good to turn down.
“I’ve kind of lived the life where I’ve gotten to experience so many things from traveling the world through soccer,” Davies told the New Hampshire Union Leader’s Alex Hall recently. “I knew if I could come back and share my experience with kids in New Hampshire, I could, hopefully, inspire and motivate them to chase their dreams. They should set the bar extremely high, not limit their expectations.
“I think that impact – the power of that message – is too compelling for me to turn down.”
The plan to bring professional soccer to the Granite State was originally that of Jeremy Zelanes, the founder of venture capital group We2 Ventures, who is aiming to build a 7,000-seat stadium that would be the centerpiece of a broader complex including not only a training facility and team offices but also an entertainment district featuring retail stores, restaurants and condominium apartments.
The concept is one that would bring the potential for an economic boost to the area, as well as providing a centerpiece for a city like Londonderry, N.H., where the group has identified a 50-acre plot in near Interstate 93 that is now the primary target to become the club’s home.
“What we’re ultimately looking to build is a lifestyle facility around the stadium,” Zelanes told the Union Leader’s Ryan Lessard. “We’re looking to create jobs locally in the area, and Londonderry just so happens to be a very central spot for our fan base, based on our market research.”
In addition to Davies, Zelanes is also currently in discussions with other potential investors for the project, with the initial stadium phase of construction estimated to come in at a price of $35 million. Zelanes is aiming to start the approvals process in collaboration with local officials in the next two months.
For a state that is currently estimated to have between 15,000 to 18,000 registered youth soccer players, Zelanes’ hope is that the new club will not only provide opportunity for players to find a true pathway to the professional ranks.
For Davies, the opportunity to bring a professional club that can bring together the state’s sports fans behind an independent club it can call its own could be a game-changer not only for soccer in New Hampshire, but for the wide community.
“If you look at why soccer is the world’s sport, it unifies,” Davies told Hall. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you’re from or what you believe in. The goal of the sport is to surround yourself with people, be part of a community. As much as the team will be about soccer, it’s more about the team giving back to the community as well. We’ll try to do as much as we can to positively impact New Hampshire – not only New Hampshire but northern Massachusetts, southern Maine, eastern Vermont...
“As I continue to talk about this, my excitement builds and makes my mind wonder how big this can possibly be, how far can we take this?”