USA Sevens on quest for Olympic gold
In his latest column for irbsevens.com, Al Caravelli looks at the impact funding from the USOC is having on the USA Sevens.
Receiving funding from the USOC has been fantastic.
We have to give credit to our board and our executives because our funding didn't need to kick in until 2013 but they had the vision to see that most of the core teams on the Series are full-time already, and if we want to win a medal in 2016 we need to start the investment now in 2012, which they have now done.
The results mean that we have 11 contracted players and have four more spots left for the remainder of the year and our goal to find the right individual, to blend an athlete rugby player with a person who will fit into our culture and have that quest and the mission that he wants to go to 2016 and win that gold.
I have seen the results already in the individuals too. We usually have five to seven days to prepare for tournaments but for the first time we have had three weeks to prepare and I can see the improvements.
It may not happen overnight but as soon as we can get them into that full-time environment, and learn to manage that and the resources the USOC have given us which isn't just monetary as they have also opened up the High Performance Team to us.
Little things like GPS, our sports psychologist, nutritionist, and all those pieces add up. Again it is not going to happen overnight but they are on the same quest as we are for gold in 2016.
And it is that medal that is so important - the USA is all about that. The USOC feeds on medals and the brighter the medal the more they feed on it, so when they invest in you they expect results. But that is good, now the players have a motivation and a goal to reach.
But the tournaments are just going to get more competitive and as that happens not only are more core teams going to come into play but fans are going to become more attracted, and not only the current ones, but the new fan base.
NBC came on board for the USA Sevens last year and they are for this year too. As we do well that fan base will grow in the USA in the same way it will for other countries, including Brazil.
You look at them with over 150 million people, the fact that they are hosting the Olympics in 2016, and for the first time coming to the USA Sevens tournament, the sport has huge potential there.
Of course I am biased but I think we are the best spectator sport in the world, better than anything else out there, and the more people that see it for the first time, no matter if you are a sports enthusiast or if you like to mix sport and party, just go to a tournament and I guarantee we will hook them on for life.