Log in Newsletter

It Takes A Village | By Thad Mumau

Jordan Soccer Complex is like a small village. It is a village that offers all kinds of soccer opportunities, whether recreational or serious competition, for the very young players and for the older, extremely experienced players.

Located off Ramsey Street near Methodist University, Jordan Complex has been open since 1995. It is the home of the Force program, which fields 10-and-under (U10) to U18 teams for boys and girls. There are close to 20 Force teams.

There is also a huge recreation program which is part of the Fayetteville Soccer Club Recreation League. This spring, more than 900 youngsters are signed up to play, and about the same number participate in the fall league.

Andrew McCarthy, who came to Jordan as a coach in 2000, has been the complex’s director of soccer operations the past three years, and he likes what he is seeing.

“What we are trying to accomplish,” he says, “is to promote soccer in Cumberland County. Since the World Cup in 1994, the sport has become stronger in the United States. More kids are playing. We want to help the interest and involvement to grow.

“I think at the moment, with our recreation program being so strong, it is an opportunity to set up programs that will benefit the kids and get them loving soccer more and more, while also helping them improve as players.”

The Force has gained some recognition, most notably the 1984 boys, who won the State Cup four times. The 1987 boys reached the Final Four in U17 and U18 competition, and the 1986 girls made the Final Four in U16, U17 and U18 competition.

“Those were very good teams,” McCarthy says, “but overall, we are not on a level with the likes of Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. I don’t think we can ever compete with those programs. It’s a numbers issue. Every few years, we may produce a team that is competitive on the state level, but not as consistently as those cities.”

And that’s OK, with McCarthy.

“Our goal,” he points out, “is to make our program the best it can be.

“We try to give kids in Cumberland County the best facilities, which we have at the Jordan Complex. We try to give them the best soccer experience through the coaching they get. We are doing a good job, but that is our biggest challenge: trying to find real good coaches for every age group.

“We will strive, in the next few years, to develop programs to educate coaches and players. We emphasize fundamentals and technique so that when – or if – the kids come to the travel level, they will have a good base.

“And, then, we want to provide an area for the youngsters to improve – a competitive environment so they can continue to get better.”

“The big thing,” McCarthy says, “is finding the best coaches. Everything takes care of itself after that.”

Jordan Soccer Complex has put into place a new coaching structure. In the past, there was one director of coaching who was responsible for all of the Force teams. Now, McCarthy and Jeremiah Mattingly are responsible for the girls’ teams. Bryan Madej and Justin Terranova take care of coaches for the boys’ teams.

In an era that pushes young athletes to play almost year-around, Jordan does not. There are no summer travel teams, just a couple of camps.

“If you are getting good coaching and guidance,” McCarthy says, “you don’t need to be playing 365 days a year. Playing too much can bring burnout; it can take away the fun. And a game should be fun.”

People see the Jordan Soccer Complex as place for teaching the sport and for providing a first-rate place to play it. What they may not realize is that it also has a substantial economic impact on Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

The complex hosts big soccer tournaments for three weekends. Those events draw a total of approximately 400 teams, with 16-18 players on each roster. Parents come with most of the players, and around 80 percent of the visitors stay overnight. In fact, they usually spend two nights, and when meals are added, that is a large amount of money poured into the local economy.

While the Force program is for more advanced players, tryouts are held for the teams and are open to anyone from anywhere. There have been players who came from Wilmington, Wilson, Lumberton and Pinehurst, among other places.

McCarthy is happy about the present at Jordan, and he is excited about the future.

“We have gradually improved our programs,” he says. “We stagnated a bit in recent years, but I think we are starting to take off again.

“The important thing to stress is that Jordan Soccer Complex is a great place to come out and play. Soccer has grown dramatically, and it is getting to be one of the biggest sports in America.”