September 6, 2003-
One of Dallas' most influential soccer ambassadors has turned his attention to one of the city's true soccer treasures. Gordon Jago is busy these days renewing soccer contacts for the Dallas Cup's betterment while simultaneously refreshing his own professional enthusiasm.
Jago, the longtime Sidekicks official, spent three years as World Indoor Soccer League commissioner. Now, at 69, Jago's drive is once again alive as he shifts his focus from indoor soccer to his first love, the game's outdoor version. Outdoor soccer brought Jago to the United States in 1978, when the former English League player and coach began steering matters at Tampa Bay of the defunct North American Soccer League. He came to Dallas to coach the Sidekicks in 1984 and later moved into indoor soccer's business offices.
Now Jago is the new executive director of the venerable Dallas Cup, the youth tournament known around world soccer circles as one of the globe's premier youth club tournaments. Jago's job is to help the tournament, about to celebrate its 24th year, regain some momentum. The foundering economy and the 9-11 undertow cut into the Dallas Cup's ability to secure top international teams. And the troubles coincided with the loss of longtime Dallas Cup helmsman Bill Stroube, who resigned after the 2000 event.
Operationally, the tournament remained in good hands thanks to Randy Jones, who knows the event's mechanics inside and out. And Jones has developed a healthy list of contacts. The likes of world soccer blue chips such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax of Amsterdam and others helped elevate the Dallas Cup's international profile. Stroube helped secure international TV deals. And the annual spring event maintained its reputation for policing games with a corral of world class referees. But the tournament was beginning to struggle to lure those marquee teams to the Super Group. That's where Jago comes in. Jago has monitored worldwide personnel for almost four decades and maintained contacts with plenty of world soccer's movers and shakers. Along with Jones, he's also working off his list of corporate contacts to strengthen the tournament's ties to the local, national and international business community.
Jago is savoring his new role. Most of the years with the Sidekicks and indoor soccer were kind, he said. But he didn't particularly fancy the role of commissioner. "As a coach, you have wins and losses, and you know how to deal with it," he said. "As a commissioner, you feel like you spend all your time handling complaints. You never have any wins. "I didn't have a lot of joy," he said. "Now, I'm back to working with kids and the game and truly enjoying things again."
Originally published in the Dallas Morning New on August 14, 2002
Reprinted with permission of Steve Davis and The Dallas Morning News.