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February 6, 2014

OKC Energy's Nielsen used to building soccer from scratch

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

"It's ridiculous; it's flying right now," Nielsen said. "In Kansas City, when you drive around and see all the baseball parks, and you see kids playing soccer on the baseball parks. That makes me smile a little bit. You want to see the kids out there."

More importantly, there at least appears to be somewhat of a fan base in Oklahoma City. It is home to a passionate branch of the American Outlaws, the United States National Team supporters organization that has made trips to Kansas City and Columbus, Ohio, to watch their team play. These are the type of fans Energy FC will need; young to middle-aged adults with disposable incomes and a dedication to the game.

But Nielsen and the Energy FC back room team are dedicating more of their efforts to reaching out to everyone, specifically families with children who are growing up playing America's fastest growing sport.

"I've only been here a short time, but the first time I was here I was impressed so many people already knew Energy FC," Nielsen said. "The organization has done a good job so far of branding this team and all the promoting. A winning team is not only a record. You need the community and the support for the team as well. If you don't have that, there is no team."

It will certainly be more difficult to build this team up in the midwestern United States than, say, Nielsen's native Denmark, where he said soccer is tantamount to religion (and it is replaced only by hockey in the winter). 

Much like the kids picking up the sport now, Nielsen approaches coaching with a sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm, since it's something he has wanted since he was a child in school.

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