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Safety-First Football Start-Up Looking To Consolidate In 2016
Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to start-up sports leagues. The American 7’s Football League, or the A7FL, found that out in its inaugural season, which ended in June.
But co-founder and CEO Sener “Sean” Korkusuz knows the ability to be flexible is critical when running a start-up. “We had 30 teams last season but our goal is to have eight teams for 2016 and then expand in 2017 to the south,” he explained. Newark and Roselle – in New Jersey – Long Island, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Virginia and two sites still to be determined will be the core.
“Our first year was definitely a huge learning experience. We were boot-strapped so that dictated the path that we had to take,” said Korkusuz. However, he and his partners are more convinced than ever that the brand of 7-on-7, no-helmet, no-pads football is the kind of entertainment people are seeking in a football-obsessed society.
Another upgrade Korkusuz wants to make is to improve the quality of the individual team owners willing to pay a $3,000 entry fee to cover the costs of videotape and referees. The owner would then be responsible for paying to secure a field.
Initially, the A7FL was charging a small fee for the games but decided, because the attendance was low, to switch to free admission. NJU, a team composed of mostly William Paterson University (N.J.) players, captured the league’s first championship.
The grass-roots league has embraced social media building a following of 7,000 likes on Facebook, which is crucial when there isn’t an advertising budget or any national media coverage.
“We've proven that our brand of football brings in fans across the country and the world,” said Korkusuz.
Hey, even the behemoth we know now as the NFL had to start somewhere.