By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba United Soccer program has recently undergone some changes and is now organized under the newly named Nashoba Regional Soccer Association. The association has also added a new premier-level program intended to be an affordable alternative to other private Club programs. Tryouts for the new program took place in June.
While Nashoba United continues as the NRSA’s recreational program, the new division, Nashoba FC, provides an affordable option for student soccer players to compete in the Mass Premier League.
The change in organizational structure has allowed more flexibility in the type of programs offered, according to Daniel Teague, newly named president of the Nashoba Regional Soccer Association. Teague is the former president of Nashoba United and previously served NU as the vice president/league representative of the Nashoba Valley Soccer League, the recreational league in which NU plays.
Nashoba United was formed years ago to allow top-level soccer players from all three Nashoba District towns to play together after the high school season had ended since there was no town team on which they could all play. It later expanded to include pre-high school-aged players, which continues to be its focus today.
While the NU program draws from across the district, each town’s youth soccer program has remained under its own direction so it is not considered a regionalized program, according to Teague. Because of this structure, the Nashoba Valley Soccer League requires NU teams to play at the highest level of competition for recreational soccer, he said.
Other regionalized programs, such as Groton-Dunstable and Acton-Boxborough, are able to form teams of all ages and competition levels because “when those programs were formed, the individual town programs integrated into a single program whereas in our region, all of these programs remained separate,” Teague said.
The reorganization of NU provides more soccer options “without introducing the complexities of regionalizing the three town programs, that would have involved consolidating the existing town administrative structures,” according to Teague.
Nashoba United has become its own division under NRSA, but each of the three towns still maintain their own programs. Nashoba FC is a separate division under NRSA and is regionalized, allowing for more playing opportunities.
An Affordable Premier Option
Teague highlighted several specific factors in the decision to reorganize:
“Player numbers continue to decline because the premier clubs are competing and winning players away from recreational soccer in large part to compete at levels not available through existing town-centered programs. There has been significant support from the families in the three towns for such a program and many have expressed an interest in regionalized soccer for ages not represented by the current NU program. Parents, players and volunteers involved in the program believe that the cost of premier soccer is not necessary, and in many cases isn’t representative of the value returned to the players involved,” Teague listed.
“Nashoba FC is a premier program that is volunteer-based but competes in Mass Premier League (MAPLE) and offers younger players skills development programs,” Teague said.
He explained that often premier league programs have strict player commitments and fees can cost upwards of $3,000 a year.
“We’re basing our fees on the cost to operate as a volunteer organization, which means we are 1/3 or less than the cost of the typical premier program and continue to focus on player development and instilling in players a life-long appreciation of the game,” Teague stated.
All of their operating costs are taken care of through player registration fees.
NU and Nashoba FC often practice jointly, explained Teague, reducing the overall weekly commitment and allowing students more time and flexibility to participate in other activities and sports.
The June program tryouts went well, according to Teague. “We formed four teams for NU, as well as three additional teams under premier program Nashoba FC.” Teague said.
Looking Toward Fall
Teague is looking forward to planning training sessions and seeing players improve their skills in the fall.
“The fall season is really a time to evaluate players, build team chemistry, while making sure the kids are having fun,” Teague said. “Our goal is always to improve our player’s skills. All of the people involved in the program want to see our players continue on to enjoy the game of soccer into adulthood, and establish strong bonds with their teammates as they approach high school.”
Teague is still hopeful that there will be integration within the towns, noting that this is a valuable concept. “Until then, NRSA will continue to operate the NU program for high school players, as well as U12 and U14 aged players to compete together in advance of high school. And now the new Nashoba FC program will exist to provide additional regionalized soccer,” Teague concluded.
Learn more about NU and NFC at www.nashobaunited.com and www.nashobafc.org.