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Pivoting during the pandemic: Portland Community FC strives to support its players and families

April 28, 2020 - By Dan Woog

Since its founding seven years ago, Portland Community FC  has stood apart from many soccer organizations.  

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With a goal of providing high-quality, affordable club soccer to low-income, immigrant and refugee youth ages 3 to 18, PCFC has gone out of its way to walk the talk. Thanks to sponsorships and other fundraisers, players pay just $50 to $80 per season. (Even so, 15 percent of the families receive full scholarships.) All uniforms are free. Soccer shoes and shin guards are provided upon request. 

But there are other barriers besides money, and the club recognizes them. All forms are translated into Spanish; so is the website. Many coaches are bilingual. Nearly all coaches are volunteers. (There are only two paid employees: founder and director of coaching Kaig Lightner, and program director Carolina Hernandez Morales.) 

PCFC finds transportation solutions, such as carpools and staff pick-ups, for players. The club realizes that even with this help, players may miss practices or games due to transportation or socioeconomic issues. No one is “punished” if they do. 

To ease technology barriers that may hamper participation, club families are not required to have an email address. Coaches find other ways to communicate, including regular phone check-ins. 

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This past year was one of great growth, and high expectations. With two teams playing at the state association level, and others in non-sanctioned but high-level Latino grassroots leagues, players were developing well. Recently PCFC helped found the Oregon Premier League, under the U.S. Club Soccer umbrella. 

Last month, though, the coronavirus rolled in. On March 13, club officials suspended all on-field activities. 

For a couple of weeks, Lightner admits, “we didn’t know what to do about engagement.” While many competitive clubs were sending virtual training regimens and how-to videos to their athletes, and using social media to stay connected, some PCFC players and many parents were not on social media. Online access was an issue, too. 

Lightner was not worried about the soccer aspect. “Our kids are obsessed with the game,” he says. To keep her son engaged, one mother built a goal in her backyard. 

But he was concerned about players’ families. With 75 percent of his households below or hovering around the poverty line, he knew the virus’ impact went way beyond suspended practices and matches. 

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Quickly, PCFC pivoted its focus and energy to providing resources and funding to everyone in the club. “We’ve always made soccer accessible to all. We’ve always been able to help provide emotional support to players during things like evictions and mental health crises. Now we’re making social services available to all too,” Lightner says. 

Morales – who writes on the PCFC website that soccer provided her own escape from a difficult youth – began reaching out to families. One important need was clear: access to resources. Club officials are fielding questions about food banks, unemployment and rent relief, and directing parents to appropriate organizations. At least eight families have lost all income. PCFC is exploring how to provide direct financial assistance to them, and others. A Rapid Relief Fund is being set up, to be used after families exhaust all other resources. 

Like the rest of his club, Lightner is struggling. In his case, it’s how best to respond in a suddenly changed, quickly evolving world. 

“I don’t have all the answers,” he admits. “I’m just trying to follow the path of providing the most comprehensive support we can.” 

He knows his club may be the only institution some families rely on. “They’ve interacted with us so much – two practices a week, games on weekends,” Lightner says. “Those relationships are important. The trust we’ve built is crucial now.” 

Throughout the soccer world, the future is uncertain. No one knows when teams can again train and play. Lightner looks forward to PCFC’s entry into the new Oregon Premier League. At the same time, he knows his club will have even more scholarship and other requests for help than before. 

Still, he appreciates the unique role he and his staff play at a time like this. “Soccer has always brought people together,” Lightner says. “It grounds a community. When there’s a crisis, people turn to a club like ours. They come to us, and it’s our obligation to help.” 

 

ABOUT OREGON PREMIER LEAGUE:

The Oregon Premier League is a non-profit organization that aims to develop open and diverse competitive soccer opportunities for Oregon youth soccer players. Sanctioned by US Club Soccer, the OPL offers a range of competitive leagues, tournaments, education and events for soccer players from 9U to 19U boys and girls age groups.

Phone: 1-800-531-7889, Ext. 5 | Email: info@oplsoccer.com  | Website: www.oplsoccer.com

 


 

Short-term summer registration price for Oregon Premier League members

March 18, 2020

Dear Oregon Premier League members,

Recognizing the timing of tryouts and to accommodate new players or those who change clubs as a result, we are introducing a new short-term summer registration price for members within the Oregon Premier League.

More specifically, the price for a 2019-20 competitive player membership will be automatically reduced to $8 if purchased:

 

• On or after May 11, 2020

• Via the Governing Seasons section of the National Registration System (NRS), powered by SportsEngine 

• Via a team that is affiliated with Oregon Premier League within the NRS.

 

 

Registration will be valid through the end of the 2019-20 Governing Season (July 31, 2020). Please note that players transferring clubs during this time period will still need to be released by their previous club, which is completed by someone with Org Admin or Governing Season Admin permission canceling the player’s membership with US Club Soccer. Ensuring this is completed before the new membership is purchased will expedite processing.

For clarification, if not already completed, Oregon Premier League staff will need to accept the team affiliation within the NRS for the discounted price to take effect. Please verify the affiliation is complete before purchasing the membership. If you have any questions, please contact AdminRegionE@usclubsoccer.org.

 

ABOUT OREGON PREMIER LEAGUE:

The Oregon Premier League is a non-profit organization that aims to develop open and diverse competitive soccer opportunities for Oregon youth soccer players. Sanctioned by US Club Soccer, the OPL offers a range of competitive leagues, tournaments, education and events for soccer players from 9U to 19U boys and girls age groups.

Phone: 1-800-531-7889, Ext. 5 | Email: info@oplsoccer.com  | Website: www.oplsoccer.com

 


 

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OREGON PREMIER LEAGUE READIES FOR INAUGURAL SEASON IN FALL 2020

 US Club Soccer is proud to welcome the Oregon Premier League, a   new statewide league for competitive boys and girls teams. The Oregon Premier League kicks off this fall with 9-U through 14-U age groups and continues into the spring with the same age groups and also 15-U through 19-U divisions for high school premier and select levels. 

League officials project the fall season to include nearly 200 teams. The founding clubs of the league are:

  • Oregon United Football Club
  • Portland Community Football Club
  • FC Piamonte
  • Soccer Chance Academy
  • La Amistad Soccer Club
  • FC Coras
  • Cosmos
  • FC Genesis
  • IFC Huracan

“Thank you, US Club, for supporting a new premier soccer league in Oregon,” said Heladio Cruz, founder and director of  FC Piamonte. “So many clubs and families will benefit from lower fees and a focus on player development. This is the beginning of a new era in Oregon for all young aspiring soccer players – and the most important part is the players will win.”

In addition to its regular season programming, the Oregon Premier League features a pathway for its champions to advance for free to the National Cup Northwest Regional. The National Cup is US Club Soccer’s annual cup-based championship series, incorporating Regionals and various state cups into an advancement opportunity to the National Cup Finals.

The Oregon Premier League is working in side-step with US Club Soccer to bring player identification and development opportunities to the area, such as a Player Development Program. The league is also intent on reviving the former Oregon Cup, one of the most popular state championships in the region, which would represent another pathway to the National Cup.

“The Oregon Premier League provides an opportunity for like-minded clubs in the state to achieve a collaborative structure that puts the interests of their players first,” said John Borozzi, US Club Soccer Vice President of Membership Services. “We thank these clubs for this commitment and look forward to helping the league grow.”

A big emphasis of the new Oregon Premier League is to be a diverse and open league and make competitive soccer affordable for all young players who aspire to play at a higher level. The new OPL welcomes all clubs that want to come together to create a league that puts all players first. 

"We are so excited to join OPL because we value inclusion and affordability in competitive soccer. That's hard to find, but OPL makes it possible,” said Kaig Lightner, founder and director of Portland Community Football Club. "Youth competitive soccer has become very expensive in recent decades, which leaves a lot of marginalized kids out of the game. We love that the OPL has affordable fees, but also puts an emphasis on player and coach development. These are all aspects of the game that are difficult for low-income families to access."

Oregon United Football Club is looking forward to the new changes and a new beginning under the renewed Oregon Premier League banner, said MJ Tate, founder and coaching director for Oregon United.

"OUFC is delighted to be part of the new Oregon Premier League, where players and clubs come first. It is important for our members to feel they have a voice and to be with clubs that are collaborative,” said Tate. “The new OPL, in conjunction with US Club Soccer, provides a similar and familiar developmental pathway that complements our club philosophy.” 

The Oregon Premier League promises to: 

  • Offer innovative league and event programming
  • Collaborate and work together with participating soccer clubs
  • Promote coaching education at all levels
  • Promote a national competitive pathway for the league’s elite teams and its top players
  • Ensure open access to all levels of competitive youth soccer for all levels of players and teams
  • Keep league fees low
  • Embrace diversity and open competition

“Thank you, US Club Soccer, for supporting a new premier soccer league in Oregon,” said Heladio Cruz, founder and director of  FC Piamonte. “So many clubs and families will benefit from lower fees and a focus on player development. This is the beginning of a new era in Oregon for all young aspiring soccer players – and the most important part is that the players will win.”

US Club Soccer’s mission is to foster the growth and development of soccer clubs throughout the country to create the best possible development environment for players of all ages in every club. The primary vehicle for accomplishing that ambition is Players First: a branded, holistic club soccer experience for parents and players which emphasizes the development of each individual to his or her full potential, and helps parents make better choices about where their children should play.

That Players First philosophy is supported by best-in-class partners and resources, including LaLiga, and is anchored by five pillars: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety.

In particular, Player Health & Safety is the emphasis, as US Club Soccer prides itself on fostering the safest environment for players in youth sports. US Club Soccer has implemented best-in-class background checks, as part of its background screening process for all registered staff. The effort coincides with a requirement for those registered staff to complete a Sideline Sports Doc/US Club Soccer online injury recognition course, as well as SafeSport online training.

ABOUT OREGON PREMIER LEAGUE:

The Oregon Premier League is a non-profit organization that aims to develop open and diverse competitive soccer opportunities for Oregon youth soccer players. Sanctioned by US Club Soccer, the OPL offers a range of competitive leagues, tournaments, education and events for soccer players from 9U to 19U boys and girls age groups.

Phone: 1-800-531-7889, Ext. 5 | Email: info@oplsoccer.com  | Website: www.oplsoccer.com

 


 

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Oregon Premier League se prepara para la temporada inaugural en el Otoño de 2020

US Club Soccer se enorgullece de dar la bienvenida a la Oregon Premier League, una nueva liga estatal para equipos competitivos de niños y niñas. Oregon Premier League comienza este otoño con grupos de edades de 9-U a 14-U y continúa en la primavera con los mismos grupos de edad, al igual que divisiones de 15-U a 19-U para los niveles premier y selectos en preparatoria. 

Los oficiales de la liga proyectan que la temporada de otoño incluirá cerca de 200 equipos. Los clubes fundadores de la liga son:

  • Oregon United Football Club
  • Portland Community Football Club
  • FC Piamonte
  • Soccer Chance Academy
  • La Amistad Soccer Club
  • FC Coras
  • Cosmos
  • FC Genesis
  • IFC Huracan

"Gracias US Club por apoyar una nueva liga de fútbol de primer nivel en Oregón", dijo Heladio Cruz, fundador y director de FC Piamonte. "Muchos clubes y familias se beneficiarán de tarifas más bajas y un desarrollo de jugadores de enfoque. Esto es el comienzo de una nueva era en Oregón para todos los jóvenes futbolistas - y la parte más importante es que los jugadores ganarán!"

Además de su programación de temporada regular, la Oregon Premier League ofrece un camino para que sus campeones avancen a la Copa Nacional Noroeste Regional. La Copa Nacional es la serie anual de campeonatos basadas en copas de US Club Soccer, incorporando Regionales y varias copas estatales en una oportunidad de avance para las Finales de la Copa Nacional.

La Oregon Premier League está trabajando en paralelo con US Club Soccer para llevar identificación de jugadores y oportunidades de desarrollo al área, como un Programa de Desarrollo de jugadores. La liga también tiene la intención de revivir la antigua Copa de Oregón, uno de los campeonatos estatales más populares de la región, que representaría otro camino hacia la Copa Nacional.
“La Oregon Premier League ofrece una oportunidad para que los clubes con ideas afines en el estado logren una estructura de colaboración que ponga en primer lugar los intereses de sus jugadores”, dijo John Borozzi, Vicepresidente de Servicios de Membresía de US Club Soccer. "Agradecemos a estos clubes por este compromiso y esperamos ayudar a la liga a crecer.”

Un gran énfasis de la nueva Oregon Premier League es ser una liga diversa y abierta y hacer que el fútbol competitivo sea asequible para todos los jugadores jóvenes que aspiran a jugar a un nivel superior. La nueva OPL da la bienvenida a todos los clubes que quieran unirse para crear una liga que ponga a todos los jugadores en primer lugar.

"Estamos tan emocionados de unirnos a OPL porque valoramos la inclusión y la asequibilidad en el fútbol competitivo. Eso es difícil de encontrar, pero OPL lo hace posible”, dijo Kaig Lightner, fundador y director de Portland Community Football Club.

Lightner agrego que "el fútbol competitivo juvenil se ha vuelto muy caro en las últimas décadas, lo que deja a muchos niños marginados fuera del juego. Nos encanta que la OPL tenga tarifas asequibles, pero también pone énfasis en el desarrollo de jugadores y entrenadores. Estos son todos los aspectos del juego que son difíciles de tener acceso para las familias de bajos ingresos".

Oregon United Football Club espera con ansias los nuevos cambios y un nuevo comienzo bajo la renovada bandera de Oregon Premier League, dijo MJ Tate, fundador y director de coaching del Oregon United.

"OUFC está encantado de ser la parte de la nueva Oregon Premier League donde los jugadores y los clubes vienen primero. Es importante para nuestros miembros sentir que tienen una voz y estar con clubes que son colaborativos”, dijo MJ Tate, fundador y director de entrenamiento de Oregon United. "La nueva OPL en conjunto con US Club Soccer proporciona una vía de desarrollo similar y familiar que complementa la filosofía de nuestro club."

La Oregon Premier League promete:

  • Ofrecer programación innovadora de ligas y eventos
  • Colaborar y trabajar junto con los clubes participando en nuestra liga de futbol
  • Promover la educación de coaching en todos los niveles
  • Promover una vía competitiva nacional para los equipos de élite de la liga y sus mejores jugadores
  • Asegurar el acceso abierto a todos los niveles de fútbol juvenil competitivo para todos los niveles de jugadores y equipos
  • Mantener bajas las tarifas de la liga 
  • Adoptar la diversidad y la competencia abierta

La misión de US Club Soccer es fomentar el crecimiento y desarrollo de clubes de fútbol en todo el país, para crear el mejor ambiente de desarrollo posible para jugadores de todas las edades en cada club. El vehículo principal para lograr esa ambición es Players First: una marca y experiencia de fútbol holística para padres y jugadores que enfatiza el desarrollo de cada individuo a su máximo potencial, y ayuda a los padres a tomar mejores decisiones sobre donde sus hijos deben jugar.

La filosofía de Players First está respaldada por los mejores socios y recursos de su clase, incluyendo LaLiga, y está anclada en cinco pilares: Desarrollo de Clubes, Desarrollo de Coaching, Desarrollo de Jugadores, Participación de Los Padres & Educación y Salud del Jugador & Seguridad.

En particular, Player Health & Safety es el énfasis, ya que US Club Soccer se enorgullece de fomentar el ambiente más seguro para los jugadores en los deportes juveniles. US Club Soccer ha implementado las mejores verificaciones de antecedentes, como parte de su proceso de selección de antecedentes para todo el personal registrado. El esfuerzo coincide con un requisito para que el personal registrado termine un curso de reconocimiento de lesiones en línea de Sideline Sports Doc/US Club Soccer, así como entrenamiento en línea de SafeSport.

ACERCA DE OREGON PREMIER LEAGUE:

La Oregon Premier League es una organización sin fines de lucro que tiene como objetivo desarrollar oportunidades de fútbol competitivo abiertas y diversas para los jugadores de fútbol juvenil en Oregón. Sancionada por US Club Soccer, la OPL ofrece una gama de ligas competitivas, torneos, educación y eventos para jugadores de grupos de edades 9U a 19U para niños y niñas.

Numero de teléfono: 1-800-531-7889, Ext. 5 |  Email: info@oplsoccer.com | Pagina web: www.oplsoccer.com