A coalition of soccer players and coaches from Destin and other Northwest Florida communities will be competing at the U.S. Club National Cup Finals in Aurora, Colorado, from July 20 through 24.
The team, called the I-10 Futbol Alliance, is comprised of elite soccer players from seven different youth clubs and 13 schools from Pensacola to Tallahassee. After winning the Southeast Regional Soccer tournament this past June, the I-10 Alliance team earned a spot to compete at the National tournament. The team is the only boys’ team from Florida, and one of only six regional champions from the Under-15 Premier division that qualified to compete at the National tournament.
The team’s trip to the U.S. Club National tournament is notable for a number of reasons. The team itself is not typical for youth soccer. Athletes typically play for teams close to home. In an area like northern Florida without a large metropolitan center, talented players are dispersed across many teams. With talent spread out, smaller market teams often have a difficult time competing against those from larger cities. For players living in north Florida, the opportunities to compete at the national level and be seen by college coaches are limited.
The I-10 Alliance worked with local clubs and coaches to give the most talented soccer players in Northwest Florida an opportunity to play together on one team to compete at the national level.
The players will return to their respective local club teams and high schools after the National Cup is complete. The I-10 Alliance plans to continue offering these talented players additional opportunities to play in high level competition in the future.
“This alliance gives athletes a better chance to compete at the national level and continue playing at the collegiate level after graduation,” said Ed Espinoza, the club’s executive director.
The team is made up of 20 players representing seven local soccer clubs: FC Dallas (Niceville), Real Athletic Development (Destin), Chivas (FWB), Texans East (FWB), Bay United (Panama City), Bayside Dynamo (Gulf Breeze) and ASG (Tallahassee).
Schools represented on the team include Niceville High School, Choctawhatchee High School, Fort Walton Beach High School, Leon High School, Pryor Middle School, Okaloosa STEMM Academy, Davidson Middle School, Ruckel Middle School, Destin Middle School, St. Mary’s School, Emerald Coast Middle School, Meigs Middle School, Surfside Middle School and McClay Middle School.