In thinking of clubs to profile for TEB as we continue our look at football (not soccer) in the United States, my intention was never to stick with the well known clubs.
England has many levels of football, and so does America. While there is no promotion or relegation, or a fluid pyramid, there are lower league clubs.
Providence City Football Club is one of those cult like clubs here in the States so I sat down with the General Manager Jason Rego to chat about the club.
Q. Describe what you do for the club?
My role is General Manager which consists of managing the finances, communicating with local business, and managing our social media team. Basically a brand manager with long term thinking for our non-league club. I get help from Matt Lee who co-ordinates the fields and schedules our matches. Also Eddy Baptista helps us where he can whether it is being the team photographer to stepping in place to organise the team when Matt cannot.
Q. How did the club come about?
It started through another non-league club, East Providence Sports, who played in the Rhode Island League where Tristan Lewis of Wales and I played together. When the team folded in 2015, Tristan contacted me to join ‘The Rogues’ and we entered the team into the mostly diminished Rhode Island League. After one year we entered the ‘Bay State Soccer League’ a Massachusetts based competition where we became the only Rhode Island team in the league known as Providence City Football Club (Providence being the capital of Rhode Island). Now we are in the stages of growing a long term club for the area.
Q. What level of the sport are you?
We are an amateur club at the moment as we do not pay our players, just doing it for the love of the game. We are considered ‘D5’ in America, in a pyramid that does not connect. It could be argued that we are better than a ton of ‘D4’ teams but we will not have an opportunity to progress without paying to move up a division.
Q. What is the support like for the club?
Very small and growing. Home matches gather a little over 100 supporters. Our social media presence has contributed to a large amount of our growth. People are becoming aware of who we are and what we are about. We are here to build a club for the long term focused on the local community. Our goal within the next three years is to average between 1,000 and 3,000 fans for home games.
Q. What is the sport like in the region?
The sport is very popular due to the area being heavily settled by immigrants. Providence is filled with diverse cultures from Italian, Portuguese, Mexican, Cape Verdian, Colombian, Guatemalan, and the list goes on. All of these cultures have soccer or ‘football’ as the priority sport. Along with these cultures being embedded in the sport mainstream America is growing an interest in the sport. There is a ton of history in the region but unfortunately the structure was not there to help the growth and sustainability of clubs. In Providence alone the area was filled with over five leagues playing all over the city in the seventies and eighties where players were in the US from overseas being paid under the table with plenty of gambling going on. Unfortunately, none of this exists any longer.
Q. Tell us about the current team and the players?
We have a very diverse group from ages to origin. Our youngest player is 22 and our oldest is 35. We have players from Cape Verde, Wales, England, Scotland, Colombia, Mexico and of Portuguese descent. Most of our players played at the US collegiate level between Divisions 1 and 3. We have the common thought where none of us want to give up playing the sport when we graduate, and this team allows us to compete at a quality level. Along with playing together we all hang out after games at the local pub depending on who sponsored the match. A big part of our core strength is we hang out off the field creating a strong bond.
Q. Who is your manager and what is his background?
We currently have two player managers which in the near future will look to get a full time manager. We have Alejandro Restrepo who agreed to take a step back from playing this year to focus on keeping the team together. Alejandro is of Colombian descent and a big Nacional fan. Our second manager is also the captain, Matt Lee, who helps with the starting line-up and keeping the team together. He is a former Springfield College football player, currently coaching at local youth club Bruno United and works at Brown University. He is the connect that allows us to use Brown University as our home field in the city of Providence.
Q. What style of play do the team use?
Our general style is playing out of the back, keeping possession with the ball on the ground. We are not afraid to switch the dynamic and ping the ball to catch the opposition off guard or if we are ever in trouble at the back. Most matches stay tight in the first half and tend to open up in our favor around the hour mark when we tire out teams from chasing us around.
Q. Tell us about your rivals, the league, travel distance and what it is like playing and working at this level?
We do not have a rivalry at the moment but looking to build one. The Bay State Soccer League has promotion and relegation within but it does not connect to anything else. Our usual travel distance for away matches is anything up to two hours. At the moment it is convenient because our matches during the season are all played on Saturdays when most of our players do not work. The Bay State Soccer League is an amateur league focused on players working a typical nine to five day job in Boston. The level of play is awesome, due to the amount of talent in the Boston area it keeps the competition at a high level.
Q. You guys have a great following online, is that key to growing the club and the sport?
Yes, especially with a pyramid that does not connect at the moment. Our jersey and gear has been shipped to England, Italy, and across the USA. We will continue to grow and develop our brand through social media to increase our following. There are many non-league clubs in the US who benefit from social media to grow their club and communicate with their fans. It is the easiest medium to communicate with fans and make sure you hear their voice. It is an affordable medium that doesn’t require any cash, just requires your time.
Q. Where can we watch matches online?
Unfortunately such a facility is not currently available but we are looking to stream our matches for the 2018 season. We will keep everyone posted so keep a look out on our social media pages.