Futsal On-Line ...
Christie Nelson Playing the Middle for PFL International Challenge
Christie Nelson is Chief Marketing Officer for USA Futsal, and her father, Donnie Nelson, is General Manager and Director of Basketball Operations for the NBA Dallas Mavericks and chief investor in the Professional Futsal League.
She has a vested interest in both USA Futsal and the PFL, and as such has become one of the key figures in moving futsal to an unprecedented level in the U.S.
"With my dad being the top investor, it's kind of hard not to be involved," Nelson said. "I want everything there to go well. I want everything there to be success, just as I want USA Futsal to be successful. I think they go hand in hand."
She sees a number of key figures coming together to create the PFL International Challenge and bring the PFL into existence. Two of those are Keith Tozer, U.S. Futsal Coach and Commissioner of the PFL, and Rob Andrews, President of USA Futsal. And then of course there's Donnie Nelson.
(Photo: Christie Nelson.)
Like many of the prime movers in this modern emergence of futsal, Nelson has not been connected with the game very long.
"My first experience with it was when Keith Tozer had the U.S. vs. France in Milwaukee (June 12-14, 2014). I got invited to go out there. I didn't know one thing about futsal when I went over there and kind of fell in love with it in a weird way. I grew up with basketball, so it kind of has that smaller feel and is fast-paced. All of the stuff that I love watching."
"I was of course falling in love with futsal when I was in Milwaukee, and I thought it was a great opportunity, and I kind of just took it. And now we're here helping launch a professional league. It's definitely escalated in a really quick way. It's a great opportunity, and I love every second of it."
"Disney was incredible and amazing," she recalled. "I was so shocked by the turnout, and of course you can't go wrong with being in Disney World. It was an incredible experience for teams, coaches, parents, everything. It was all first class. They had the best of the best teams. Nine countries were represented, so the international component to me was huge.
"I love all of the international components. There were teams from Australia and Brazil, and you could see the best of the best. It's kind of a competitive niche that futsal has in their pocket."
"I've been kind of blessed," she said. "From watching from the stands in Milwaukee to sitting here in Dallas working on the PFL Internatiional Challenge. We are less than a month out, and it's been a pretty incredible experience."
"They will be arriving that Monday before, and Friday the 13th is the first game. We'll kind of show them around Dallas and make sure they have a great time. And then they leave Sunday. It will be kind of a week-long vacation/tournament for them."
"They have the Festival every year, and so on that Sunday it worked out perfectly," Nelson said. "It's an Hispanic-based day, and we have Mexico coming in. So we're going to partner with the Mavericks. A free event for the public. You come in, and the first thing that you see is Mexico vs. USA. It will be a really fun event."
"It's interesting because you've got the futsal court which is pretty much the same size as the basketball court, and a lot of NBA owners kind of correlate them. It will be interesting to see what everybody thinks about futsal."
"He was the one who sent me over to Milwaukee," she said, "to check out what this futsal thing was. So I came back from Milwaukee with rave reviews. Loved it so much. And so he saw the potential just as much as I did. And we both just really said let's do this, why not? There's no turning back now. We're going for it. It's been great. Fun working with my dad. He's the best ... So now we're in the futsal world."
"He knows that my dad is involved, but I don't think he wants to get involved as far as I know. But there are other NBA greats who are interested, like Steve Nash, and even Dirk Nowitzki grew up with soccer in Germany, so there are definitely players that are very interested. And that all kind of drives the brand recognition and all that stuff. Especially from NBA owners we're had some interest there, as well. It's been pretty exciting to see the same spark that my dad and I have with other people."
"I don't think I'm allowed to say, but there is one who is very interested in two franchises on the West Coast. And then there is also New York and Miami. Those might not be NBA franchises but D League owners, as well."
USA Futsal President Rob Andrews said he is very pleased with the effort Nelson has made coordinating with Barcelona.
"Christie has done a phenomenal job in putting together their itinerary," he said. "We're going to bring some other teams from other countries. Brazilians, Australians, Japanese, Russians, Portuguese. It doesn't matter. They're all going to be excited after hearing about the treatment the Barcelona team got.
"More groups will pass on the kind of work that Christie is doing, laying the ground work to make sure they have a spectacular time and go home raving about the experience they had here."
Copyright Tim Sheldon and Futsal On-Line. All rights reserved.
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