Column: Alabama missing out on the beautiful game

Published 12:12 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

In the south, football is king. Everyone knows that.

But soccer is the world’s beautiful game. It’s played in every corner of the world by every type of person in every manner imaginable.

The elegance and grace that soccer players play with is unmatched, and the amount of time it takes for them to perfect their craft is astonishing.

While many of the best soccer players reside in Europe as well as Central and South America in domestic leagues there, the United States lags behind in the level on competition on its soccer scene.

Major League Soccer is the biggest professional soccer league in America with 28 clubs scattered across the United States. Hailing from North Carolina and growing up a huge soccer fan, it was a dream of me, my friends and my family to have a club in North Carolina with the same type of support and environment as the clubs in bigger leagues around the world.

Then Charlotte Football Club was established in 2022. I attended their first home game on March 5, and it was the experience of a lifetime. The fans, the flags, the players, the atmosphere, everything was more than I could’ve hoped for.

I always knew that North Carolina had the soccer knowledge and passion to support a professional soccer club. Based on my six years in the state of Alabama, the people here have the capabilities and passion to support their own professional club as well.

They just need the chance.

While there is Birmingham Legion FC, a USL team which is the minor leagues of the MLS, there is not a true professional environment for Alabama soccer fans to get their fix of footy action.

The University of Alabama and Auburn University both have only women’s soccer teams. The women’s soccer games at UA were a blast to go to, so why not have both men’s and women’s teams? Give the soccer athletes in the state more opportunity to pursue their sport in their home state.

Chilton County High School’s soccer games are very fun to attend. The players and coaches are passionate about their craft and sport, and dedicate a large amount of time to the game. There should be an outlet for these young soccer players to go and experience the game they love at the highest level in their state.

I know soccer is not as popular of a sport in the south as football and baseball, but it does deserve a spot in the regional spotlight. Charlotte FC welcomed close to 75,000 people to their home opener on March 5, breaking the Atlanta United record of just over 73,000 people.

I know the southern soccer scene is rich and deep, and it is here in Alabama as well.

Soccer’s time is now, and I hope I can help expose that rich and deep passion here in Chilton County and in the state of Alabama as well.