NEW YORK CITY – For being on the mind of every U.S. soccer follower with a pulse, Christian Pulisic hasn’t gone out of his way to promote himself. The commercial nature of today’s game practically requires that sponsors circle around the next big thing, but in the year of Pulisic’s rise he hasn’t lent his name to many products, appeared in any commercials or found his face on any cereal boxes. Most would say that’s a good sign: Too much exposure, too quickly, can be a disaster.
Slowly but surely, though, Pulisic is emerging in commercial circles. In June he signed an autograph and memorabilia deal with with Panini America. And on Tuesday he lent his promotional presence to a cause he says is dear to his heart: Youth soccer.
Pulisic was announced this week as the global ambassador for the Prospects Cup, a Under-12 soccer tournament to be staged this December in Kissimeee, Florida, and put on by Univision.
“It’s not about being the face of U.S. soccer or anything. I’m here to inspire kids,” the 18-year-old Pulisic told reporters on Tuesday. “If I can inspire just 10 kids, I’m happy. I’m not promoting myself, I’m only trying to help the kids and do something that I would have loved to have as a kid.”
Of course, like every other developing soccer playing in the world, Pulisic attended his fair share of tournaments growing up. But the Prospects Cup is different, he says, because of the number of different teams it brings together and the publicity Univision will offer.
“It kind of gives these kids a platform to enjoy the beautiful game just like I did,” Pulisic said.
Games in the tournament will be broadcast on Univision Deportes and streamed online. Univision EVP Rick Alessandri announced on Tuesday that youth squads from AS Roma, Manchester City, Chivas de Guadelajara, and Club América will join the selected domestic clubs in the tournament. The purpose, Alessandri said, is to create an event like the Little League World Series, but for soccer.
“For guys that want to make it in the big leagues, [the LLWS] sort of gives them a platform and a chance to show what they can do,” Pulisic said, recalling his one time attending the Little League World Series as a child, to see his cousin Thomas play in the tournament.
As part of his involvement, Pulisic will attend the Prospects Cup with his family in December, while Borussia Dortmund is on winter break. He may still be a developing star, but Pulisic is beginning to understand that, to some, his presence alone means a whole lot.
“I would have loved if one of my idols growing up had been at one of my tournaments. I would have given me so much energy to go out there and play,“ he said. “The biggest goal of mine is to inspire kids to do what I’m doing. If I can do that in my career, then I’ll definitely feel accomplished.”