Nicknamed ‘the most beautiful game,’ soccer is enjoyed not only in European nations or South America, but around the world. Even in Nashville, you may soon hear somebody yelling, “Goal,” as the newly-formed Nashville Football Club begins their first year of play.
While some may say that Nashville does not need a soccer team, it actually makes sense that Nashville High School graduate Angel Sepulveda started the town’s first squad for high school aged students. American interest in soccer is on the rise as the 2014 World Cup had a record amount of viewers – an estimated 26.5 million Americans – watching the final game between Argentina and Germany, according to the Nielsen Company. Not only that, but the USA team’s final match in the tournament was watched by 16 million Americans on ESPN alone, in comparison to the five-game NBA finals in 2014, which was only seen by 15.5 million people.
Despite these trends, Nashville High School still lacks a school-sanctioned team, something schools such as Arkansas Baptist, Arkadelphia, De Queen, Hope, Malvern and Mena have added in recent years. This left no place for the teenagers attending Nashville High to play soccer on an organized team, inspiring Sepulveda to start the club.
“This is not an official team … but we are doing it for [the kids],” Sepulveda explained. “We play Hope, De Queen and we played UA Cossatot. We play high school teams when we can and we are standing up and trying to have a team.”
According to Sepulveda, the unofficial matches are set up through team members’ friends and family who play for or coach at other local schools.
“This not only gives us somebody to play, but keeps the players in condition in case they do get a high school team,” the coach said.
According to activities director Miles Mitchell, the Nashville City Park’s soccer league enjoys a roster of about 100 participants, but is only open to young athletes under 13 years of age, meaning there will likely be an increase in students without a team to play for as they grow older. Sepulveda wants to change that, but also hopes to open his club to those who have already graduated.
“It would be nice to have a Nashville city league because it would give the grown-ups of Nashville who did not have a opportunity to play in high school a place to play besides traveling to De Queen,” he said. “To become a part of the team, anyone can just come to me or my friend Ezequiel Landa. It does not matter if you aren’t prepared. We have the patience and time to teach. If you don’t know how to play and just enjoy the sport, we are up to the challenge.”
To join the team or for more information, contact Sepulveda at 870-828-0089.