It was the summer of 1999, when approached by a most eager group of boys, I decided to undertake the development of this young but so talented, assembly of talented youths. We worked intensely for many months, improving their technical abilities through 4 - two hour sessions weekly. At a point when we attained age appropriate level skills, they pushed for more...and more! It was at this precise point in time that I realized how desperately, youths were seeking proper training and guidance. Many area clubs were promoting the idea and going through the motions of preparing teams for winning seasons, yet my concern was the young child, the truly hungry player who wanted to further develop their personal technical skills. There were boys and girls, separated in varying groups from ages 8 - 14, and there they arrived earlier than even the scheduled time, with parents lining the practice field at EP Elementary, keenly observant to the challenges which were to be set forth! Their eager faces and passionate souls, were to serve as the real inspiration for this re-initiation in coaching (my first coaching experience occurred when I was merely 15 years old, coaching a fun group of U-9 boys) at this very young age level. It was there that the truth stared me in the face, and a new love was born...or I should say, reborn!
Years followed, with year-round clinics, mini-camps and summer camps, which were being requested with great demand and were sought after at all available times. These all were carried out under various names, and at fields all over the City of Weston, which somewhat reflected the dynamics of what we were accomplishing. The age groups became more diversified and encompassed an ever growing and much broader spectrum of players. We were teaching different skill models to all age groups from the tender young age of U-6 - where the activities revolved around full play time in a semi-controlled setting, to a U-12 level where we began to introduce dribbling and passing skills, tactical concepts, structured play, and incessant small field / reduced space play on a wide array of surfaces (grass, dirt, asphalt, sand). The model grew at an unimaginable pace, with large summer soccer programs and specialized training sessions for all level players...and thus, the next logical step became the structuring of teams to compete in recreational level league play.
At this point, the appropriate structure became the nationally renowned American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO - Weston Region 644), a league which had over 5 million players all over the country (nearly 1,800 participants in Weston alone, at that time) in a structured format where all players irrespective of ability, were given the chance to play. Years of this great concept eventually took the many players to succeed at their different teams within the AYSO. At times I found myself coaching three different age group teams in AYSO, along with middle school, and travel soccer...along with mini-camps, summer camps, private lessons! It was so very exhausting, but so greatly rewarding! The pinnacle of this involvement reached its highest point, when at the 2003 AYSO Florida State games, our boys U-14 team won the event, in a most convincing manner over all teams competing.
Upon the success of the recreational squad, with no further challenges at that level, the next logical step became the structuring of this team into a competitive level travel club, in which our initial steps were detailed and approved by all players and parents - to prepare for an entire summer without any competitive interaction...physical, technical and tactical training exclusively! This was performed at the well-known Church Fields (affectionately regarded as our global headquarters and central training facility!). At the conclusion of the same, we were to enter two events in the state of Florida, wherein we would compete to measure our continued progress. Needless to say, in some games we were greatly mismatched against highly rated teams, yet learning and observing the direction we needed to take, and the effort which we had to put forth to compete on equal terms, we went back to work! We trained harder, more often, and longer hours (at times up to 20 hours weekly). We added new players, we developed a mission, and then established our realistic goals, which were primarily qualitative in nature. We knew that these eventually would lead us to the quantitative results, on their own!
At this point, FUTSOC (a portmanteau for FUTBOL - SOCCER) was developed, adopted, and it officially became the emblem, for what was to become the successful story it has become to date! Players continually approached us in order to receive consideration to participate, parents would call at all times, and lastly, the highest form of flattery - many area club teams felt threatened by our presence, competitive spirit, and talent, and many similar (less structured) imitators cropped up around the county! We were on our way to develop a special identity, and slowly became the conversation piece of team players and coaches of our level and above! Consistently, we would see coaches and players secretly line the field perimeter behind trees and lines of bushes, in studying our practice methodology and training. We were so highly motivated by these actions, and our structure became even sturdier and more focused!
Regular scrimmaging, training, and learning with older competitors teams and the special assistance provided by adult area teams (who eventually played under the FUTSOC banner at top rated national tournaments as well), which frequently provided us with controlled practice matches, made us a very seasoned team very quickly! This growth and demonstrated development, invariably led us over time, to important participation at developmental and bronze / copper level events. We continued to experience maturation, and our needs expanded, seeking silver and gold level events. We simultaneously fielded one of the first teams to compete in the USL - Super Y league...the first FUTSOC U-15 elite level team, which was built with one of the strongest group of players ever assembled in South Florida...many of the players went on to become All - City, All - County, All - State, All American and also, State, Regional and National ODP players...and even U.S. YNT, U.S. MNT and foreign National Team players. This group had so much success!
Then came the globally played Copa Coca Cola, which had over 100,000 teams worldwide, participating in a long drawn out elimination process. The event witnessed FUTSOC ENIGMA win 7 games in three days, against some of the best competition in Florida. The victory provided the team with the Southeast Region Championship and awarded us the right to compete with the other 7 national region finalists (California, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado), for the National Championship, at the newly built Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
FUTSOC ENIGMA won its group play, taking victories over teams from Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, and reaching the semi-final against the heavily favored U.S. team from California (at that time, the No. 1 ranked team in the country in the U-15 age group - the famed Celtic Harps). Against all odds, and in defiance of their virtual whirlwind dominance of all other teams in group play, we played a superb match, falling short by the score of 2-1. We had ended our dream run, as the third ranked team in the Copa Coca Cola from among over 650 national participant teams. As it turned out, our loss was to the eventual No. 2 team in the world Copa Coca Cola competition (Celtic Harps eventually lost to Copa Coca Cola World Champion Turkey at the international stage in Portugal in the final, after going 3 overtimes and 11 rounds of PK's.). We knew we had accomplished the unimaginable…and in doing so, we looked back on the tireless dedication and effort put forth, over the course of many years! Our system of player development had produced the verifiable results...reflecting of our individual and collective growth! FUTSOC ENIGMA was here to stay...and expand!
Performing successfully at these established events, we then were very fortunate to become recognized at the platinum level tournaments...and ultimately given the first real chance to play at a top level USYSA/ US Club Soccer, by a believing group of tournament organizers who at my almost pesky insistence, took a measured chance, and invited us to their premier level tournament -Score at the Shore. This one particular event launched us to even greater national prominence. We had finally "arrived"...reaching the final of that highly ranked event, beating some of the most formidable competition from around the country along the way! ...What has transpired since then is almost story book in nature. The team has been invited and competing most successfully, at the very highest levels of domestic and international competition available in the U.S. - Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup, Score at the Shore, Jefferson Cup, Baltimore College Showcase, Annandale Premier Cup, Potomac Memorial Cup, Raleigh Shootout, NSR Cup, US Club Soccer State Cup, US Club Soccer Regional Cup and US Club Soccer National Cup, Final Four Showcase, Disney Cup International Youth International Tournament, and the famed Disney Showcase, to name some. Our team has traveled more often than any other club, in primarily representing our great South Florida area, but also, showing off the quality of other prominent areas of soccer in Florida!
We continue to evolve, seeking primarily, quality human beings with solid skill levels, undying passion, constant desire, and an unyielding dedication! We attend the top events in the nation, and have been invited to some of the finest in the world (Dana Cup, Gothia Cup, Brasil Cup, San Marino Cup, BA Cup, CASA). We look to the future as we continue to identify the special youths who will carry the banner in the years ahead! We are preparing to send our seventeenth group of players into the college ranks (previously having FUTSOC alumni players attend colleges at Virginia Commonwealth, NC State, Clemson University, North Carolina - Charlotte, Thomas University, Queens College, Rutgers University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Waylands Baptist College, St. Thomas University, Barry University, Florida Atlantic University, Darton College, Florida International University, Webber International University, University of South Florida, St. John’s University, Boston College, University of North Florida, Southeastern University, University of Texas, University of Michigan, Stetson University, Rollins College, Broward College, University of Tampa, Emory University and many others. To date, over 160 student athletes have been placed in colleges around the U.S., a formidable accomplishment. By all accounts, the mission once again is paying its much awaited dividends, as it is expected that our current squad will have every single player attend college - equally divided between partial funded, combination (athletic/academic) and full ride, scholarships!
We have endeavored to develop our youths into complete individuals...those who possesses not only athletic prowess, but also, young men who will move on to higher learning education (some will drift into their dreams of playing at the pro level), becoming well rounded, productive men in our future society! We glance back...and what we have is no secret formula, but rather an adherence to basic intrinsic values, which shape bodies along with minds, simultaneously! We look back, and we see the blueprint for the future, as we will not deviate from these lessons. We will learn from our errors, and develop strong, devoted, team players possessing of great skill, and with the mandated strong moral character and value system. Such is the case, that presently, three (3) nationally prominent clubs, and one of our own US youth soccer affiliates, have approached us with the serious requests to establish our development model for their programs in lieu of the alternative "Federation" prescribed options...the ultimate compliment and tribute to all who have endeavored with FUTSOC!
Time will continue to allow us the space and energy to continue forward! Youths will still flock to our program,, despite the consolidation of clubs into academy programs at 60 such groups nationally, because there will always be the niche for specialty training, concerted thinking outside the rigid confines of status quo, which so harshly restricts the personal growth of youth players. Players have options to seek professional aspirations, we do as well...however, we also afford them with the clear opportunity to utilize these great abilities in seeking career paths into educational gains at the institutions of higher learning. Not many players fill the ranks of the professional level, and one injury is always a play away, so we constantly stress the educational component as a mandate to play with FUTSOC, and we promote it as vigorously, as the need to continually evolve in this great sport!!
We wish to thank all those who have been so very instrumental in our success to date...core players, guest players, parents, coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, and even our opponents, which have so obligated us to rethink the manner in which to approach and attain these lofty levels! After all, we are a product of so many influences, and that makes FUTSOC the strong club that we are!
FUT - SOC about the players...for the players!
Per als Jugadors, Pels Jugadors!