MILWAUKEE -- For an entire generation of Milwaukeeans, Michael King is the face of soccer. He's the all-time leading scorer for the Milwaukee Wave, who owns four indoor championship rings. Since retiring as a player, he has continued his association with the sport.
"I have a passion for the game. I have seen how it has developed over the last 30 years in America -- the amount of time I've been here, and I feel it is going to continue to grow. There's an industry now. It's not just show up and play a game on a weekend. There's people like myself and others that are involved in soccer, and that's their profession, whether it's on the coaching side or the admin. side, or putting sport turf fields in, there is an industry now. Soccer is an industry," King said.
For King, that now means serving as camps director for the Milwaukee Kickers, as well as leading their elite program. What he grew up calling "football" in England is still largely the same game he is teaching kids now, but the way they consume the sport is much different.
"They learn more visually than we did growing up, with the computer games and soccer games and watching the games on television. We pretty much had to go out and watch games firsthand. Now, with technology, kids learn a different way, but it's still nice to go out and kick the ball around with them," King said.
When the Euro Cup was being played earlier this spring, it was not hard to find passionate older fans in Milwaukee, and their interest spills down to the younger folks.
"At the end of the day, soccer keeps eating away and eating away, and like you said, you're starting to see more of it on TV from around the wold, and you're starting to familiarize yourself with individual player names like Messi and Beckham. 15 or 20 years ago, people would have had a hard time naming a soccer player -- maybe Pele -- but they're starting to become household names," King said.
Soccer is billed as the beautiful game. It has been just that and continues to be for King.
King is very busy with summer camps, and the Milwaukee Wave organization has its own extensive program, but soccer is now a year-round endeavor for many young folks.
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