White Salmon has a new team in town, Costa Norte Futbol Club (FC).
The game of soccer, known as futbol in Latin America, has risen in popularity steadily since the 1970s. But White Salmon has never had a competitive team for kids until now. Costa Norte FC, which is Spanish for North Shore or North Coast, recently formed for its first season and has two teams one for boys eight and under (U-8) and one for boys ten and under (U-10).
“White Salmon Commun-ity Youth Soccer is fantastic at introducing kids to the game and getting their fundamentals,” says Dan Miller, who helps out with WSCY soccer and started up Costa Norte FC this spring. But, he adds, there is also a need for a more serious level of soccer.
“In order for our kids to compete on the level that the Portland area and Hood River area does, we need to have a team that practices and plays in the spring,” Miller says. “Hood River BSC has tremendous support and excellent coaches but our kids can’t afford to pay for the team’s fees and most of the kids couldn’t make it over to the practices.”
But starting up a spring soccer team has been fraught with challenges, Miller says. First of all, many of the kids who should have been playing organized soccer were not. There are language barriers (over half the team is Latino), financial barriers, and lack of awareness of the opportunities for kids to play.
Before a team could be formed, Miller had to make hours of phone calls, visit classrooms, and even went to people’s houses to let parents know about the their child has an opportunity to play for the area’s competitive soccer team.
“I wasn’t sure we’d have the numbers to field a team. But when tryouts were held over 35 boys between the ages of 6 and 10 showed up,” Miller says.
So, instead of fielding one team, Costa Norte FC created the U-8 and U-10 teams. Tom Wooding stepped up and offered to help Miller coach the teams.
Once he knew there was enough demand for the competitive level, Miller had to work on setting up games with other competitive teams in the region, worry about insurance, and a whole set of extra challenges to work through.
“White Salmon Commun-ity Youth Soccer has been critical in helping to form Costa Norte FC,” Miller says. “They are providing the insurance and some seed money to get the teams up and going. I can’t thank them enough for giving the kids this opportunity.”
WSCY soccer has helped take the sting out of the cost of a competitive soccer team which typically costs $500-$750 for a kid to play for the season. “Many of our kids simply can’t afford that. But they deserve to have a chance to play at a serious level. WSCY is helping them to do that,” Miller notes.
Costa Norte FC still has to figure out where to practice. There aren’t many places with regulation goals that kids can walk or bike to. Basically, the high school is the only place. The team is hoping the school district will fast track an application so that Costa Norte FC has a place to practice and play home games.
“These kids will be the foundation for the high school’s varsity team in a few years and if they get a chance to compete at a serious level, the varsity team will benefit tremendously,” says Miller.
Finally, the team needs uniforms and they aren’t cheap. Currently, the kids are using old practice pennies for game jerseys. Miller is hoping there is a business or other sponsor who is willing to donate between $500 and $700 to the team. That will pay for the jerseys, some critical equipment like shin guards and cleats for kids who can’t afford them, and help out with the cost of fields and referees.
“I understand our businesses are constantly being asked to chip in and help out and I am grateful for all that they do for our area. Be-cause of this, I don’t want to have to ask anyone to do it. I’m hoping someone gets excited about sponsoring the two teams and wants to give these kids the opportunity to play the sport they love and compete with teams from around the region. Of course, their company’s name will go on the jersey,” Miller says.
If anyone wants to sponsor the team, call Miller at 509-281-1100.
Despite the odds, Costa Norte FC opened its season with success. The boys U-8 team beat Hood River BSC 4-2 and the U-10 team tied a tough Hood River BSC team 3-3.
Costa Norte FC plays its next game April 24 in The Dalles. In fact, all of Costa Norte’s games will be away games until they can find a regulation field to host home games.