Houston Football Club
Over the last 2 years, Texas has seen a massive explosion in the number of amateur soccer clubs. Houston FC was part of that growth and today we talk with Houston FC club president, Jeff Fetzer.
When was your club founded and by who?
The club was started by Coach Bruce Talbot and two “soccer dads”, along with their very supportive spouses in December 2016. Both of the dads were fortunate to have sons that played for Coach Talbot and saw how he maximized their development and challenged them to reach their potential. As one of those dads, and as a player myself that has a serious love of the game, I recognized quality coaching and a new opportunity for Houston soccer. Coach Talbot played collegiately and had over 30 years experience coaching youth, collegiately and professionally.
What are your club's goals? long-term/short-term
We want to change the culture of youth soccer in Houston. The Houston soccer community, especially the youth side, is very fragmented with different competing leagues and formats. Each is fraught with political wrangling that complicates the environment. We believe we can be effective outside of those systems to not only develop good players but more importantly develop good people. Players represent our brand and know that we are founded on Respect, Commitment, Trust, Integrity, and Discipline. We hold them to our high standards that reflect our culture. Many times the whole club, from post-collegiates down to middle schoolers train together. It is amazing what they learn from each other in this environment.
As an organization, we need to provide a sustainable training environment for our young players. We need to create a level of play for our younger players to aspire. Our older players need to have consistent training with good competition and year-round opportunities.
Can you explain the explosion of teams in your area?
(Laughing) I guess everyone saw the void too and followed our lead. Some clubs are filling out the pinnacle of their developmental model, while others are focusing on getting contracts for their players. Whatever their reasoning, I am happy to have local competition because travel can be a heavy burden on a club, especially in its initial years.
What leagues have you competed in?
We started in PDL as a way for our high school players to experience the game at the next level and young college players who played for Coach Talbot on his youth teams to stay fit over the summer. When we joined at the end of 2016, there was a void in Houston for those players. We’ve expanded to year-round competition by joining UPSL and adding Super Y League for our youth side. We will continue to have our youth play in meaningful and high caliber showcases and tournaments like Disney, FC Dallas, NCFC and Austin.
You compete in several different amateur leagues, can you discuss the differences between the leagues and how your club approaches them differently?
As I mentioned, we started with PDL and we were pleased to be able to offer a high level of competition to collegiate students returning home to Houston for the summer. That said, we had to find a way to front end and back end the season with more local talent and rely on our high school players as the collegiates were either coming from or going back to school. UPSL has been a good fit for our oldest youth team (U18). It offers a higher level of competition than their peers playing Developmental Academy and ECNL and happens without the expense and age constraints. We are fortunate to have some resident players that are pursuing their collegiate career or professional career locally and they help to guide our younger guys.
Can you talk about your club crest? Color and element choices?
It’s no secret that the energy business is critical to Houston. So our choice of colors and elements reflect that. Whether you see a drop of oil or a wellhead flare you see energy waiting to or being unleashed. The wildcatters that have gone before us dreamed of striking black gold. In the same way, our players dream of that next level, whether that is collegiately or professionally.
Who's the best player to come through your system so far?
We are not yet two years old and just launched our youth side this season so it is too early to know. I have seen a dramatic improvement in players who train with Coach Talbot and college coaches are certainly taking notice.
Do you have a rival club?
Proximity lends itself to rivalry. It will be interesting to see how they develop.
What's the most interesting thing about your club that fans may not be aware of?
We are not afraid to play high school players against the paid professionals in UPSL and collegiates of PDL. Our roster, in all of our teams’ games, is guaranteed to be younger than anyone we play. That goes from the highest age group down to our youngest youth team. If we get a result on the scoreboard, great, but we are truly about development. The true results come from the hard work and nobody works harder than our players. Nobody.