Note: To connect with David Pettican about his upcoming programs, please email him. Stay tuned to PhiladelphiaUnion.com for more info about Pettican's upcoming programs.
When you first meet Philadelphia Union Youth General Manager David Pettican, two things immediately stand out. He is passionate for his family and he is passionate about soccer. Those passions will come through to anyone that meets Pettican as he looks to grow the Union’s soccer family.
“I’m a granddad; I have two children so I’m always around children,” Pettican told me. “I have many, many nephews and nieces that I have loads of fun with when I go back to the U.K. so children have a big place in my heart. Family values and families have a big part in me. When I’m coaching someone’s child, I see them as my child. When I’m working with a family, I’m part of their family. The core of family values and children’s passion and joy when they achieve something is definitely that gets me up in the morning and I want to continue down that road.”
Pettican fell in love with soccer in a unique way. Growing up in the United Kingdom, the beautiful game is a way of life. A little heavier than the other children on his team, he recalls his father helping him workout and what resulted was better fitness and energy as well as more opportunities to showcase his talents. With his parents driving him nearly every mile of the U.K., Pettican was noticed and eventually signed a professional deal with Portsmouth Football Club as a 16-year-old.
“I wasn’t someone that had natural talent,” Pettican said. “I was someone that didn’t find game and had to work on it a lot but I found that the harder I worked, the bigger the reward was. I was prepared to do that work and as the recognition came my way, I wanted to work harder in a self-greed but I love the sport.”
As his professional career blossomed, Pettican discovered another passion: Youth development. When he wasn’t on the pitch, Pettican assisted at the Portsmouth Center of Excellence which was equivalent to current pre-academies such as the one run by the Union at YSC. After an injury brought his playing career to an end, Pettican turned his attention to helping the next generations of talent find their love of beautiful game. That journey brought him to the United States and now to the Philadelphia Union in a new position as the club’s first Youth General Manager.
“My passion has always been development; my passion has always been relationships,” Pettican said. “I think I’m easy to get along with and I believe that every child has something to offer. I was always happy to put as much effort into coaching a C-level player as an elite level player. I always got as much joy seeing a C-level player become a B-level player as an elite player going to college or the professional game.”
As his first week comes to a close, Pettican has big goals for expanding his and the Union’s family through soccer, and he is already starting to make progress on them.
“A big part of my role in the community is going to be not finding the next Landon Donovan; it’s more about getting families to be a part of the Philadelphia Union,” Pettican said. “Their child could play rec soccer and through some influence with their club that allows them to come to Talen Energy Stadium, they will become fans.”
“I’ve already been contacted by numerous groups that don’t have an affiliation with Philadelphia Union that want to be part of the family because no one has reached out to them before. There are a lot of communities in the greater Philadelphia area that are not involved with the club because no one has reached out to them yet and I’m looking forward to meeting with them.”
When asked what sort of ideas he has planned to get the soccer community of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, Pettican says he expects programs to be community driven.
“I want people to know that I’m an approachable person and I want them to reach out to us and let us go out and do things. There is going to be a huge amount that we do that won’t necessarily have a cost attached to it, it will be a community-driven. Sure there will be programs that you will have to pay for as well, but in my role it’s important that I can reach as many people [as possible] through my networks. “
“I want people to feel comfortable now that there is a community general manager that they can come up to and chat with.”
David Pettican is a man with a large family, and he wants to bring the joy he gets from family and soccer to his new role. To do that, he will try to expand the Union family by conveying his twin passions to others in the Philadelphia area.