City Football Club (“City FC®”), a program of DC Stoddert Soccer, was established in 2007 to provide District youth with a program combining competitive soccer and first-rate mentorship and college preparation. City FC® is organized exclusively for charitable purposes as an educational non-profit. Its objective is to bring together the City’s youth for educational and recreational opportunities, including but not limited to soccer.
City FC® was created by Dan Driscoll and Roy Kelly, the boys’ soccer coaches at the School Without Walls, a D.C. public high school. The pair – former teammates on a DC Stoddert travel team who both went on to play NCAA college soccer – saw a need to improve the level of coaching and academic guidance provided to soccer players in the DCIAA – the D.C. public schools league – and concluded that access, both financial and logistical, was the most significant barrier keeping the District’s talented pool of student-athletes from achieving their full potential in the classroom and on the field.
Coaches Driscoll and Kelly believed a free, volunteer-run soccer program was the solution, and as the 2007 fall soccer season concluded, the coaches set themselves to creating City FC®
Their efforts began with an informal futsal clinic held each weekend at Turkey Thicket Recreational Center in Northeast D.C. Participation began with a few students that had played on the School Without Walls team and quickly spread through word-of-mouth to an average of more than 35 students each week. On some weekends, as many as 80 kids turned out for the informal futsal gatherings, where they played side-by-side with each other and experienced adult players who were invited to join by Coaches Driscoll and Kelly. But the coaches knew that more needed to be done.
The kids pushed the coaches to create a formal team, and the coaches were happy to oblige. More volunteers were recruited, and these were not limited to soccer coaches. Coaches Kelly and Driscoll saw a need to provide the kids with tutors and mentors to ensure that players were succeeding in the classroom and guide them through the college application process. More volunteers – a mix of parents and young professionals – were quickly recruited.
Working with Montgomery Soccer, Inc. (MSI), City FC® registered its first team in the MSI “Classic” high school boys division in spring 2008. Driscoll and Kelly volunteered as the team’s coaches, sharing the managerial and registration duties with a small group of parents. The team practiced on each Friday and played games on weekends in Gaithersburg, Md. The coaches gave players academic assignments, such as drafting college application essays or creating a professional resume, in order to keep the boys on track in their academic careers. Free tutoring was also provided, with students visiting volunteers for one-on-one support with homework and college applications. City FC®’s two seniors in spring 2008 are now enrolled at four-year colleges.
Upon completion of City FC®’s inaugural season, the coaches organized a weekly six-day training program for the team during the summer of 2008. The summer program combined technical skill development with physical training activities such as weightlifting at a local gym and running in Rock Creek Park. Team outings were also scheduled, including an outing at a local cinema to see “Kicking It” – a documentary about the Homeless World Cup – and trips to watch D.C. United games at RFK Stadium. A resume workshop was also held to assist those players preparing for the college application process.
In the autumn of 2008, City FC®’s boys’ team again competed in MSI Classic high school (U19) Div. 1, finishing in third place. The weekend futsal training sessions returned after the Thanksgiving break, with both a boys’ and a girl’s session taking place each weekend at local DPR gymnasiums. At the same time, the coaches worked with participating youth to help them register and manage their own futsal teams to compete in DPR’s leagues and tournaments. The coaches also formed a pair of teams that competed in the adult divisions of these competitions.
Spring 2009 saw City FC® add four teams to its ranks. In addition to the year-old City FC® high school boys’ team playing in MSI Classic Div. 1 (now known as City FC® “Black”), the club has launched a high school girls’ team (City FC® “White”) and a second high school boys’ team (City FC® “Silver”) in DC Stoddert’s high school rec divisions. In partnership with DC Stoddert, City FC®’s Michael Lingenfelter is also coaching a team of aspiring 11-year-olds enrolled at the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School. Coach Lingenfelter’s crew has taken on the moniker City FC® “Tigers,” in honor of the official E.L. Haynes mascot.
As part of City F.C.’s “Continuing Soccer Education” (CSE) initiative for adults, City FC® unveiled its brand-new men’s team — City FC® “Old Boys” — in the Washington Premier League (WPL), an elite men’s amateur league that is considered one of the most competitive amateur leagues in the mid-Atlantic. The City FC® "Old Boys" roster is comprised of City FC® and DC Stoddert coaches and volunteers. The CSE and its adult programs, which also include futsal teams in the winter and year-round training sessions for men and women, are designed to help City FC® coaches stay sharp and relevant as coaches and enthusiasts by continuing their experiences as players. The initiative is in keeping with City FC®’s vision of a “vertical” soccer club — whereby players mature from training with City F.C.’s youth programs to training with its adult groups. The current Old Boys roster includes four graduates of City FC®’s youth program.
The term "vertical club" refers to the notion that as our youth players age and mature as players, they will have the ability to train and play with our adult teams in competitive environments that will prepare them for college soccer. Even more, they will be able to stay with City FC® throughout and after college if they return to the D.C. area. Top players in our youth ranks are also directed toward DC Stoddert’s travel program, as well as the D.C. United Academy and Olympic Development Program.
Competitively, we aim to offer a developmental team (playing in DC Stoddert’s high school rec division), an advanced team (playing in MSI’s high school "Classic" division) and an adult team (playing in the premier division of WPL or WAWSL) for both males and females. This currently exists on the boys’ side, and we seek to replicate this structure by Fall 2009 on the girls’ side..
The coaches of City FC® firmly believe that soccer is often over-coached, and for this reason we are committed to combining the free-play of pick-up soccer with the rigor and understanding of competitive travel soccer. This means we offer a range of programming of both the pick-up and competitive varieties. We also believe that always playing 11v11 soccer outdoors will inhibit many players from developing their ballhandling skills to the fullest of their potential. Thus we include futsal -- a form of 5v5 soccer popular in Brazil and Europe -- in our curriculum, as well as traditional 11v11 soccer.
In sum, with regard to athletics, City FC® wishes to give every kid the opportunity to maximize her or his potential as a soccer player, while also opening our players’ eyes to the idea that soccer is only of value if it is ultimately a source of enjoyment and inspiration.
To learn more about City FC®, please visit www.CityFC.org or connect with us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/cityfc
City FC® is organized exclusively for charitable purposes as an educational non-profit. City FC® is supported through grants, fundraising activities and donations from private citizens and industry. If you’d like to make a donation to City FC®, click on the donations tab to the left and select “City F.C. Urban Soccer” from the drop down menu. In addition, we host monthly happy hours to raise funds and give fellow soccer enthusiasts opportunities to socialize. Check back often for our calendar of upcoming City FC® events in the metro-DC area.