It’s no secret that organized youth soccer is a significant expense for many families. Whether it be uniforms, registrations or new equipment, it’s a serious financial commitment to help develop any young player.
That’s where Temecula FC’s Brandon Jantz steps in. The current owner of the Southern California NPSL club is hoping to make the team’s youth program free. Although the organization has already done plenty of penny pinching through a current annual registration price of just $395 for the club, Jantz is hoping to soon pick up young talent that might have fallen through the cracks.
“I didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” said Jantz in an interview with Soccer Nation last week. “In terms of my parents, they relied on scholarships. Otherwise I would have never been able to play club soccer at all. I was very lucky, right after club soccer, to play on a professional contract.”
“For me, early on at 16, 17, I knew I wanted to do it as a job and it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. If I wasn’t given the opportunity of a scholarship to play club soccer, my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford it at the highest level of play,” he added.
Now, as owner of Temecula FC, Jantz wants to be able to do the same for others who may or may not have the means to regularly take part in organized soccer. That said, it might take some time and large financial commitments to not only start the program, but also have it stay afloat.
“Ideally, it would be great if it was something that’s [created] near five years,” stated Jantz. “If we are going to do just our first teams, meaning our highest level for each age group, and not the ones that are considered a second team or a B team, you’re looking at about $30,000 per year, per three teams, in terms of coaching salaries. Roughly, that definitely works out to around $200,000 for what it would cost in the budget. That doesn’t obviously include the uniform cost, field fees, and ref fees.”
Luckily, sponsorship from a local real estate group and the senior team will help ease some of the fiscal burdens that might hinder the creation of the free program.
“That’s all dependent on our sponsorship relationship with Quail Real Estate, and then also with how the first team does, the NPSL team. We get a percentage of every sale through Quail Real Estate and we are just getting involved in that aspect,” said Jantz.
After the program is set in stone, Jantz will hope to not only bring in more talented players, but also others who will be able to finally afford to play. According to the club team owner, this strategy will help provide improvements for the squad.
“The pay-to-play model doesn’t work in terms of getting the best players and the best development,” stated Jantz.
“It’s gotta be a situation where the players earn their spot and it doesn’t come down to if a player can afford it or a player can’t afford it. Otherwise, we will never ever be able to truly have competition within our club,” he added.
As for the current state of the youth division of Temecula FC, the team has been able to provide some transition to the senior team, but Jantz is hopeful that a core of the roster will soon be made up of former youth products.
“The youth [club] has been around for two years now, the youth is going into their third year. We have had one player who is 15 come up [to the senior team], and he is over in Spain now. We’ve had four players from our U17s, who are now U19s, come in and play games with the NPSL team,” said Jantz.
“It’s been pretty steady. Our ideal [transition from the youth team to senior team] is 75%. 75% eventually, but that’s a five-year, six-year process.”
Although providing free soccer is a priority for Jantz, the main goal in the end is for him to help give a chance to others, like him, who want to be involved in soccer for a living.
“Every year we send players over to Europe for professional try-outs at the academy level as well as the professional level,” he stated. “It’s the whole reason that we are here, but we also understand that a very very small percentage of them will ever make it, but we just want to give them the opportunity.”
“You can only imagine how many players are falling through the cracks and not getting opportunities,” said Jantz.
Best of luck to Brandon and the rest of the Temecula FC organization. We hope you’ll soon be able to bring free youth soccer to southern California.