President’s Message – Oct. 2021
To all FCCI/PCSL families:
As the days get shorter and we see the end of our fall season, I felt it was a time to reflect on the many changes and successes we have had over the last year while looking forward and sharing some big news with you all that will impact our club.
The amount of change our club has had over the last 12-18 months is unprecedented in our club history. Not only have we all continued to deal with the challenges of COVID, but this season featured other major changes including new colors/branding with the establishment of FC Central Illinois (FCCI) and new uniforms, the establishment of Eclipse Select Central Illinois (ESCI) with new uniforms, securing exclusive control of the Game Time Gym turf, the complete restructuring and integration of the PCSL and the travel academy, moving our tournament to Rantoul, and countless other changes that impacted coaches, curriculum, players, and parents. While I know that we had some bumps here and there along the way, overall, thanks to the partnership of our staff, players, and families, our club is set up for future successes as we have never had before. And before I go any further, I want to publicly thank Mike Matkovich and our entire staff for the amazing work they have done to get through these times to get us to where we are at today. When we close out our fall 2021 season at our first turf classic in Rantoul in two weeks, I hope that you will join me and take a moment to thank our coaches, managers, and staff for all the work they have done to make sure our kids are able to grow and thrive while they get to play soccer. There is a lot of good happening here in our club and a lot to be proud of and thankful for.
As I look to the future, one of the biggest unresolved questions I hear are around the new fields. I am happy to report that we have some major positive updates in this arena, many of which will be covered more in-depth by WGLT later today. As we communicated at our last all club meeting, late last year we were forced to abandon our plans for the previously announced site at Towanda Ave, Raab Road, and Route 66 due to unforeseen site and soil complications that would have made construction very difficult and too costly. At the time of the club meeting this Spring, we communicated that we were working with multiple sites and were close to finalizing our plans. I am happy to announce that as of September 1, 2021, FCCI has secured land for our future fields at the 60-acre site of the former Sale Barn located at the intersection of Hamilton Road and US 51/Main Street in South Bloomington. The club has already begun the necessary processes to start securing the permits and begin building a new complex. The new site will feature two new artificial turf/lit fields, will upgrade and utilize the two existing grass fields and parking, and will prepare the additional area so that 4-5 full-size grass fields can be constructed. This site, along with our Game Time Gym lease, will allow our club to operate year-round, regardless of the weather. Based on the current projected construction schedules, these fields will begin to come online sometime around summer of next year. To help us through this transition, we have formally asked the Central Illinois Regional Airport for permission to exercise the remaining and final one year lease extension at Community Fields and we are hopeful they will approve our request shortly. Our plan is to shift our club over to the new fields as they come online, starting with the turf/lit fields first. The pace and scope of the remaining build-out are still undetermined as aspects of the complex such as additional fields, bathrooms, concessions, etc. will be dependent on our ability to fundraise further. While our previous Capital campaign was helpful to put us into the position we are at now, the reality is that we were not able to hit our previous goals. Further, COVID negatively impacted our club and many of our donors to the point that we continue to need partners, donations in kind, and additional sponsorships in order to fully build out the complex the way we would like. However, with highway access close by, plenty of parking, and easy access from multiple major roads in town, this site will still feature some day one improvements over our current location. We are excited to start building there in the spring!
Before I close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some of the other successes our club has had this fall season. Yesterday, three of our ESCI girls teams (03,05,07) each made the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME of the IYSA State Cup, the highest level of IYSA club competition offered in the state!!! This is a feat I am not sure our club has ever experienced even once before, let alone three times! In addition, our 06 ESCI team also made the State Cup quarterfinals and our 08 and 09 ESCI teams have already locked down group play wins for their respective State Cup playoffs later this Spring. In addition, of our 6 ECSI girls teams, over half of them currently sit on top of their division, with a few of them remaining undefeated! But our success has not just been at the Elite level, as our FCCI teams have been on fire this fall. In fact, our 2010 Boys Select team just lost a tight 1-0 game in the Junior State Cup semi-finals and we have numerous FCCI teams at the top or near the top of their respective SLYSA or CISL leagues. At the rec level, we have implemented a league-wide training curriculum along with a PCSL talent identification program in which our best players at the younger ages will get to play at our Turf Cup, test their skills against other regional teams, and experience a taste of travel soccer. Regardless of the level of soccer offered, whether it is ECNL, FCCI travel or PCSL/recreation, our players are positively developing on AND off the field, having success, and having fun while they do it. As I said earlier, we have a lot of good happening in our club right now that we should all be proud of.
Finally, as we indicated at the start of this season, the addition of Game Time Gym will result in additional opportunities for training, games, and soccer related opportunities over this winter unlike what we have had before. Matko and his staff have been hard at work putting together winter programming and there will be a number of communications coming soon highlighting those programs. Please keep your eye on your email as well as our social media pages in order to stay up to date on all the new activity this winter.
As always, if you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out directly to me, any board member, our Sporting Director Mike Matkovich, or any member of his staff. We are all glad to have you and your family as part of our club and wish you all continued success over the next few weeks.
President, FC Central Illinois & PCSL