If you are a female looking to play the beautiful game in sunny San Diego look no further. The Peninsula Women’s Soccer League is also looking for YOU! SoccerNation’s Carrie Taylor recently sat down with the PWSL’s president, Jenn Ford, to discuss the league and all the exciting things they have on the horizon.
Carrie Taylor: Tell me more about PWSL and what you would like people to know:
Jenn Ford: Peninsula Women’s Soccer League (PWSL) has been around in San Diego for over 30 years. PWSL started as a grassroots organization, where women came together to play soccer casually, in the Point Loma area (hence, Peninsula). Rumor has it PWSL goes back to the mid-70’s, but we incorporated as a non-profit in 1986, and continue to be run by volunteer-members.
Our stated purpose is to promote and organize amateur women’s soccer in a friendly and recreationally competitive manner for women of the San Diego area disregarding race, age, lifestyle and/or religious beliefs. We provide multiple levels of play, over various age-ranges, so that we can include as many women of San Diego County as possible. We strive to provide fun outlets for exercise for as many women, while keeping costs low.
Carrie Taylor: What is your soccer background?
Jenn Ford: I personally played growing up, through high school, but then didn’t have time in college. I took a few years off until I discovered PWSL in my mid-20’s. I reached out (through Craigslist!) and found a group of other women in similar situations to form a team with. We started playing together in the Fall of 2006 with PWSL, and the team (and a few of those same original players) are still playing today. We’ve made some incredible friendships along the way, and hope to keep playing together for years to come.
Carrie Taylor: Where do you play your league games?
Jenn Ford: Due to the poor condition of most grass fields in the area, we play on synthetic turf fields at high schools around San Diego, and at Town Center Community Park in Santee. While turf fields are not ideal playing surfaces, especially in the summer months, we’ve found that at least having a level playing field has gone a long way towards injury prevention.
Carrie Taylor: Is your league year-round?
Jenn Ford: PWSL plays three seasons a year: Fall runs from September through mid-December; Spring runs mid-January through May; Summer is June & July, then we have our annual tournament in August.
Carrie Taylor: Tell us a bit more about your tournaments this summer. How did it get started?
Jenn Ford: For many years, PWSL ran a tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend, known as the Turkey Shoot. In 2012, we switched to a summer format, traditionally the first weekend in August, to hold our Summer Soccer Classic Tournament. This year, the SSC is held August 5-6 at Frances Ryan Park, in Escondido… one of the few places in the county with enough well-maintained grass fields to hold us. We offer Women’s and Coed Divisions, across various age and skill levels.
The regular registration deadline for the tournament has passed, but we may have room in certain divisions, or for free agents (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info), In July of 2017 we are adding a Charity FootGolf Tournament to our line-up, as a social event to keep our members engaged, and give back to a local charity called YALLA that is focused on helping educate refugee children, using soccer as a motivator.
Carrie Taylor: How can players find a team if they do not have one to play on?
Jenn Ford: Within our model, it would be ideal for whole new teams to come together on their own and sign up, but that is rarely the case. We try to provide means of connecting interested players with Team Managers, but occasionally take the time to group together groups of free agents and guide them through their first season to get established. PWSL offers message boards where interested players can leave their contact info, and our managers have access (password protected) to the list to recruit from.
The best time to find a team is in the weeks before a new season starts, but managers are often looking for replacement players throughout the season as well. We also offer clinics a few times a year to get new players out on the field, do a training with a professional coach, learn about the league, and get connected directly with managers.
Carrie Taylor: How does someone get involved beyond just playing?
Jenn Ford: PWSL is entirely volunteer run, and we are structured such that the Board communicates with Team Managers, who are responsible for their own recruitment and player registration. We rely on our Team Managers to organize their players and ensure that policies are followed. Much of our Board is made up of Team Managers who want to contribute further, and their volunteer hours are what have kept us running for over 30 years. We welcome players to get involved in the process (teams can have multiple managers), and appreciate any additional input/support/ideas players can offer.
Carrie Taylor: What are some of the challenges and strengths of your league?
Jenn Ford: PWSL is great at providing organized outdoor, 11v11, format soccer to the women of San Diego county. As a non-profit, we feel we keep our costs lower than other leagues around, considering what we offer: full 90-minute games with 3 professional referees, on the nicest fields in the area. Since we are volunteer run, and depend on our managers to organize their players, we don’t have the best infrastructure for absorbing new players to the league.
We also have had a hard time connecting with local college and high school coaches, to catch those high-level recent graduates for our competitive divisions. We would really like to be able to provide the next soccer stepping-stone for women leaving competitive formats, so that they can continue to enjoy the athletic outlet while they pursue other careers. We have found that keeping up a weekly routine of getting together with your best friends for some exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your soul.