Tell us about the club!
It was an idea to create a soccer club for our city, to create a culture of the beautiful game under one name and to hope that in the future we are able to build an organization with many levels of soccer for everyone (youth teams, woman's and men's teams) and most importantly to be able to bring professional soccer to Columbia, Maryland - a city that loves the sport, hopefully with an open system #ProRelForUSA
Columbia, a planned city, was founded with James W. Rouse’s vision to bring people together from all backgrounds. We can easily see his vision in action around Columbia today. Soccer (football) is universal, and has long been shown to be an avenue for unity and peace. We had this vision in mind when creating Columbia FC, and hope to continue representing Columbia.
The Club works under the guidance of the 4 founding members. When we started, we knew we wanted to build a club that was for everyone and to play high level competitive soccer always - because a city can unify and become better, especially if the population of that city has something in common. As of now, Columbia doesn't officially have a professional team or a team that represents the city with the city blessing and we want to be that first team/club and, of course, not to represent the city only but anyone that loves the beautiful game anywhere in the world.
How do you build your roster?
When we first started, we knew we wanted to be ready to compete since day 1. The roster was built with the idea to always be able to play with the ball and to have quality players that understood the ball is your best friend on and off the field. We needed to build a good roster because we joined the Maryland Majors in January 2018 and the spring season started on March 2018. We wanted to have at least 1 month worth of practice before starting our season, we held tryouts on January 27, 2018. 23 players came and it was great because that’s the first time we felt that the idea had become a reality. Out of 23 we only kept 10 players - the ones we knew had the quality and the mentality we wanted for the club. After those tryouts, we kept adding players in our practice sessions - these players came because they either sent us a message via social media or email or because their friends were already at the club had told them what our plan was and how the club was competitive and not only a “fun for playing time” club. We still have this mentality when recruiting new players but we added one more important trait and that’s commitment in the lower leagues that’s a big problem for many reasons. We were lucky that we encountered that problem early and we were able to make it clear that it was necessary out of respect for the club and your teammates to be there 100%. We still have that problem sometimes but because of an emergency or something important for players or staff - but at least now we get notice in a timely manner and we are able to have backup plans for practice or games.
Your crest has a lot of components, can you describe and explain it?
Yes, it does and that’s something that when we first revealed the crest a lot of people in Twitter had an opinion about it - they wanted to change it, they were tagging us with designers, even other clubs told us to change it, but our club’s first founder (who had created the crest/logo) had this answer: “The logo is something that represents what we are. Soccer is colorful, and everyone is different. This Logo is Us. People might not like it now, but they will Love it later.” That’s what he told Motorik FC (another club from MMSL from Alexandria, VA) president Kenneth Tebo in a private message. Tebo made a great gesture and tweeted it to answer one of the people that had a negative opinion of the crest and the bad tweets about our crest stop. Our crest/logo/badge represents everyone that loves soccer. Soccer is happiness and happiness has lots of colors.
The United States flag is out of respect of our country. The Maryland flag is for people to know our state and are proud to be from Maryland. The other reason we combined both flags in the crest is when we started representing the USA and Maryland in international competitions, we want the world to know where we come from. The dream is to build something for everyone and we don’t know how far we will get but we know we will die trying “and even if we die, a man’s dream… Will Never Die!!!”
The establishment year is important because it is to remind everyone how far we have come, when people look at our crest 100 years from now.
The soccer ball in the green grass, that’s because the soccer ball is universal - everyone in the world knows it means happiness when a soccer ball is present. You can play with people that don’t speak your language and still they know what to do and that’s how we connect with everyone around the world and at home.
The People Tree that’s the part of the crest that represents what the city is, what the club aspires to be - that’s a combination of all people working together, hand in hand, for a better city of Columbia, a Better Columbia FC, a better World. There is a People Tree here in Columbia and that’s where we took inspiration from. We changed the design because we didn’t want to use the original people tree design out of respect because we don’t have the rights to use the original design. Our hope is that in the future maybe this is the part of the crest that we can change with the original design hopefully once we can officially represent the city as the city official soccer team/club. Here is a link of the original people tree information.
You play in Maryland Majors, why this league and what sets it apart from others?
3 reasons, High Level Competition, The Maryland Majors is special because at the head of the league are people that love the game and want to give the best possible experience for teams, players, staff. The Commissioner, Bill George, runs the league with great determination and that is why after we emailed him that we wanted to join, we decided it was the right decision. He explained what the Maryland Majors was and the type of competition and players the league gives, it became a challenge to be successful in the league and we know it is the right platform to expose the team everywhere. The other reason we wanted to join is Christos FC - their amazing run in the open cup a few years back, of course, but mostly because of the way they have built their organization and brand with time. They have earned the respect of the whole country. They have even combined with FC Baltimore to create a great new team FC Baltimore Christos. Coach Lawrence Sancomb will bring his experience to this side and will make a powerhouse of that team - respectfully we want to take the throne of Maryland from Christos FC but the beautiful part of Maryland Majors is that every team in first or second division has the desire to do that and to be the top team in Maryland. The last reason, and the one we believe makes the Maryland Majors successful and one of the best leagues in the country, is they have a promotion and relegation system. We are in the Second Division at the moment. We lost the Second Division final and the opportunity to directly go to the First Division, but because of our season record (9 wins and 1 loss), we have the chance to play the 5th place team of the First Division to see who will be in First Division in the spring season and that’s exciting because one of our goals is to be in First Division. That game will be scheduled soon, keep an eye out for the time and date. Promotion and relegation gives all teams a fair chance to represent themselves at higher levels if they are able to handle the challenge, it gives an opportunity for the organization to grow it makes the competition meaningful, a sense of pride if you win and desperation if you lose. The results have a price. Unlike MLS, Lower Division soccer with promotion and Relegation is more fun - at least, that’s what we believe because there’s a sense of giving everything you have to fight to win a championship or promotion or to win to not be relegated. Even if you get relegated the next season you have a fighting chance to go back up. THANK YOU, Maryland Majors and Maryland State Soccer Association for this amazing league and opportunity.
Columbia FC had a great run in the fall season, what lessons did you take from last season?
The fall season was magic, we made mistakes in the final and paid the price - that’s soccer - but the run we had during the fall and the way the players responded to the spring season semifinal loss was pure gold. For a first-year team to reach a Semifinal in the spring and a final in fall, we are proud of the players. We have amazing people that love to play the game and they play to win. In the spring, we learned that other teams have a system they play that works for them because those teams are designed to play only that way and we needed to learn how to deal with that. We did and that’s the reason we went 9-1 in the regular season and then won our semifinal in the fall. What we learned during the spring and now in the fall will help us get stronger and we will continue to learn so we don’t make the same mistakes.
Which players from Columbia FC should we keep our eyes on moving forward?
All of them, they are great individuals and amazing soccer players. They are dedicated and have the fire and passion that’s required to become great footballers.
Your commissioner (Bill George) has mentioned expansion for the league moving forward, how big do you see this league growing and do you see any advantages or disadvantages in expansion?
The expansion is amazing - three new teams coming in and the registration is not even open yet - which means more team could sign up. Expansion is always good if the teams that join bring High Level competition. I know Meade United FC, Fortitude FC, and Dream Team FC will bring that to the Maryland Majors. I see the league growing because the Maryland Majors has a lot to offer and promotion and relegation in the league makes it special. The first Division has six teams, the second had thirteen teams last season and now will have three more. Our commissioner knows our league’s potential and is already thinking of adding a third division if necessary and restructure the other two divisions. Maryland is a state that loves soccer and the Maryland Majors is the perfect league to represent the state - that’s why teams are seriously considering joining: the competition, the level, the structure is right for growth. The only disadvantage I can think off is that the Second Division might be too crowded, especially because only two teams get the chance for promotion to first, but we are not there yet. However, I believe we will be there soon and that’s a problem for our commissioner (Thank You, Bill George).
What are your goals for your organization?
We want to become a beacon for our community to unite under soccer in our city, to be able to help the city to prosper more, to grow and become a powerhouse soccer club in the state, nation, and world, to promote and play the beautiful game with happiness so we can help a lot of people smile and be happy. We also want to see youth programs for all kids to play the game and scholarship programs for kids that can’t afford proper training or cleats because the beautiful game is for everyone. For 2019 our goals are to get to First Division in the Maryland Majors, Win a cup or two, get more sponsors and hopefully being able to secure a training field at an affordable price, but most importantly to play great soccer for people to see.
How does a regional club, like yourself, sustain growth and continue to develop? Do you model yourself after any other club?
Sponsors and desire to show our skills to everyone. We are thankful for our sponsors as they have helped us with everything from uniforms, field rentals, team registration, equipment, and support. Thank you Home Pro Exteriors, Angie Divljan State Farm Agency, Louis Mobile Mechanic Service and Omni Supply. One of our founders created a sponsorship package contract, then he went and asked businesses if they wanted to be sponsors. These four are the ones that gave us their trust and helped Columbia FC have a structure and the financial freedom for our first year. Some contracts were for a year and one of them was for two years depending on results. As of right now, we have met the requirement for the two year contract so we will be getting some funds for the 2019 season. We’ll sit down with the other sponsors to see if they want to still be a part of Columbia FC. Of course, we are aiming to get more sponsors and to be able to get other benefits or contributions from people or organizations that would like to help Columbia FC prosper. We have started to sell our team jersey for revenue and that is going slow but we are glad people actually want to buy it because they help us spread the word by wearing our jersey (plus it looks great).
Who do you see as your biggest rivals?
Right now Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester city and Juventus ….. joking joking besides ourselves being our biggest rival because we want to become better every day, I would say Motorik FC from Alexandria VA because we have play them a few times in 2018 and they always give us a fight. Plus, we have lots of fun in social media when it is time to play a game.
What else should we know about your club?
Columbia FC is a club that stays connected to its supporters. We want to thank the supporters and hope we get a lot more. We also want to invite them to have fun with us, to come see us play, or watch all our social media content to stay updated with what’s going on with the club. One of the things we are most proud off is the supporters that have come and watched us this first year - sunshine, rain, or snow, they have been there and sometimes even getting video for our highlight videos.
We have had and HAVE the Honor of working with great players that represent our club with everything - they fight every ball, they help each other out, they keep going even if they have no energy left to get our goals. Some players have left, some will come back, and new ones will come. But besides being great players, they are amazing people, individuals with a great story of their own, great people that have helped us build our club this first year. These players are our foundation, they represent how the beautiful game must be played, how in life you must respect everyone and that it doesn’t matter race, color, religion, nationality, language you speak, the respect for others and the love for the beautiful game is stronger than hate.