Alaska steps up its game: home to semi-professional soccer
Ben Sande isn't done with soccer. The former Colony High School star shows he's still good with his feet-- on a pitch, he knows well, Palmer High School.
"Heard about it, sounded like a good opportunity," said Sande.
It's an opportunity he and others couldn't let pass.
Dozens of players turned out at Machetanz Field on this cool summer night, for a shot at history. They hope to be part of the new Alaska City Football Club.
The team is the latest addition to the United Premier Soccer League. It's a semi-pro league based in Los Angeles and expected to start play next spring.
"I had no idea it was coming up, didn't know it was going to be an option, but pretty cool that it's coming up here. Might be a good thing," said Sande
Josh Banks is Palmer's High's head soccer coach. He is also the founder of Alaska City.
"With the youth club system really in its prime, and Alaska not really having much in the scene of professional sports to rally around right now, I really think semi-professional soccer would do amazing here," said Banks.
He's not the only who feels that way, so does the league's commissioner, Yan Skwara.
"We talked concepts, we talked vision, we talked goals, and we felt it was a good fit," said Skwara.
Alaska City will be the league's first team in the 49th State, but if the UPSL gets its way, more will follow.
"You're looking at a target of six to 12 teams over the next six to 18 months as a goal," Skwara said.
The first job in Alaska is to field the team; Banks is convinced he'll be able to do it with the pool up here.
"The soccer player who lives here, maybe grew up here, from the Valley. There's so much talent here, people just don't understand that from outside of Alaska," said Banks.
How much interest is there? This tryout filled up two days before it took place.
"Everywhere has it, Alaska's just perfect for it, I know we'll do well here," Banks said before the tryout at Palmer High School.
Machetanz Field already has high school boys and girls soccer on it. Soon, a third team will call it home. Ask Banks, he thinks the time is right, and the conditions for the sport to grow pitch perfect.
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