Innovator of the Year finalist Mark Christie founded The Chance to give kids in the Bay Area pro­fes­sion­al coaching at a young age.

A team of six 7-year-olds inspired Mark Christie to found The Chance, a free soccer program in the Bay Area for 5–8-year-olds.

Though his path may have led to coaching higher levels, Christie fell into coaching kids and found a passion for developing youth.

“It’s not normal for kids at such a young age to get such high-level advisement,” Christie said. “It made me wonder what could they have achieved if we incentivized top coaches into youth?”

Christie grew up playing soccer in Scotland and played semi-professionally until an injury ended his playing career. After taking a summer coaching job at an MLS camp in Boston, he knew he wanted to move to the States full time. He received a visa to work for the Barcelona Bay Area soccer club, where he spent five years coaching before he joined the San Jose Earthquakes coaching staff.

The idea for The Chance was born while Christie was working with a team of 7-year-olds. The players had never been coached by a professional before, but after working with Christie, the team went on to become nationally ranked.

“We’re missing out on loads and loads of talent because we don’t have high-level coaches working with young ages,” Christie said.

More than 200 kids tried out for The Chance in August. Now, 35 kids from all backgrounds are enrolled in the program. Christie said that his holistic approach to soccer means the players learn about other cultures and work on general life skills in addition to developing as athletes.

Christie also coaches the San Jose Earthquakes’ U12 team. Going into his second year with the Quakes, Christie is focused on providing that same individual development for players.

“My job is helping an individual reach his potential,” Christie said.

The Quakes use video to help players understand the decisions made on the field and how they impact the team. Christie said his team has a competition for the player who spends most time on Hudl. The players are given assignments to send in playlists and write a report analyzing professional players.

“Video definitely helped me as a player,” Christie said. “What I think is quite cool is, as a player, your knowledge of [the game] is often different from reality. You probably go home and you don’t realize how many things you’ve missed.”

Christie didn’t start using video in his playing career until his 20s, but his players are using it as young as 10.

Christie shared one of his Innovator of the Year finalist prizes—a Hudl subscription—with the Quakes girls’ team, giving the Quakes club-wide access to video analysis. The academy team will have their games broken down with Hudl Assist.

The Chance will also benefit from Christie’s other Innovator of the Year prizes—uniforms, jerseys and top-of-the-line equipment from SOCCER.COM.

Learn more about Christie’s passion for developing young soccer players.