Soccer Shots, a nationally-franchised operation that focuses on teaching soccer skills to youth, is considering expanding its local presence just six months after its first area franchise opened.
Justin Bredeman, Soccer Shots vice president of recruitment, said the company is targeting Upstate New York and portions of Southern Ontario as likely expansion markets.
"In Buffalo, there's probably room for one other franchise," Bredeman said.
The current Buffalo area franchise is operated by businessman Mark Miller, who opened Soccer Shots locally this past winter. Soccer Shots runs a series of youth-orientated programs in area pre-school and day-care centers.
Based out of Harrisburg, Pa., Soccer Shots has operations in 30 states and 50,000 children enrolled in its various programs. This past spring, Miller had more than 250 children enrolled in various Buffalo area programs.
Jason Webb, the former Messiah College soccer star who founded Soccer Shots, said the programs are geared towards youth between the ages of 2 and 8.
"Our focus is on first-time players," Webb said. "The idea is to get them involved in a fun, recreational program."
Soccer works because of its growing popularity and it is less expensive to play than other sports like hockey or football.
"Any child can play soccer," Webb said. "It's not like you are asking a three-year-old to learn how to skate and take a slapshot. The parents who enroll their children in our programs clearly see the benefits in terms of exercise and learning how to be a teammate. The things we teach transcend sports."
Soccer Shots, which goes back to the late 1990s, began franchising in 2005 when operations opened in Cleveland, near Philadelphia, Miami and Lancaster, Pa. All were opened by friends and former teammates of Webb.