Soccer is coming back to Nashville.
With the future looking like a few soccerless years in Tennessee, a young organization bent on serving and promoting the world’s game in its community has stepped in to fill the void.
Locals from Tennessee’s capital may know the International Indoor Soccer Complex (IISC), which sits south-east of Nashville in the town of Antioch and is home to three lit grass fields, one lit turf field (500 seat capacity with additions expected, where the new team will play) and three indoor fields, but what they may not have expected is that the facility will be home to the city’s newest semi-pro team, Inter Nashville FC.
In 2010, a man from Honduras, Pedro Reyes, purchased land in Antioch to build his first pitch. At first, he started youth and adult recreational soccer programs. Then, a few years later, he developed a TSSA Travel Soccer Program for the best youth players in the area. Currently, the organization has over 1000 registered club members and over 90 teams regularly using their facilities.
This is an organization that has established itself in its community and plans on using that asset as a starting block to jump off of.
As Inter Nashville FC general manager Rich Askey puts it: “We are a community hub of soccer players and fans and this combination gives us a unique platform to build from.”
Although the evolution of the semi-pro side is a new development for the organization, the future of the club looks bright. Askey is no stranger to both the game and area and joins the team after working on the Nashville SC staff for many years.
“Six years ago Pedro said he was going to build a great soccer complex and create a soccer club and he has done just that,” said Askey. “Pedro has built the club on his own and I feel privileged that he asked me to come on board to help create and operate the semi-pro team.”
Reyes’s goal has always been to bring a semi-pro side to Nashville, and with Nashville SC joining USL in 2018 the timing of starting a club couldn’t be better.
Inter Nashville FC (“…stands for International Nashville FC, which is a bit of a mouthful”) was founded to live up to its name. Meaning, to be truly international and “represent the new multi-cultural Nashville”.
“We have an ethnically diverse population that we serve, with people from all over the world coming together to play and watch soccer at the IISC,” said Askey.
The three men who came together to form the club are all immigrants (Pedro Reyes from Honduras, Richard Askey from England and Jomo Cromwell from Guyana) who have settled in Nashville over the last 20 years, and they’re striving to create a team that everybody in Nashville can feel comfortable supporting and feel represents them on and off the field.
And the hope is that with the surrounding area’s involvement and the groundwork of this organization so immersed in youth-level play, the community and the club will see mutual benefits start to form.
“We want to create a club in the traditional world soccer structure with a youth program supplying players to our first team,” said Askey.
The team will take players from the local community while also including the standout players from their youth program, but the eventual goal is to use their strong youth system to elevate the play of their first team.
While the progression from a youth club to a semi-professional team may seem like a backward formation for a lower-division side, the potential for this kind of setup is huge. Askey said the hope is to eventually promote players who started playing with the club at the age of five, while currently giving high school and college-aged players from Nashville area the ability to advance their skills while staying close to friends and family. But ultimately the goal is bigger than the on-the-field product for the semi-pro team.
“We can offer Nashville soccer players a club where they can grow and develop year-round playing at the same complex so it starts to feels like home for them.”
Because for Reyes, the semi-pro club isn’t the end-all-be-all of IISC. He wants the club to continue to develop and regenerate the area and be a positive force for community change through things such as coaching clinics and “Soccer Fun Days”.
Askey perfectly summed up the club’s philosophy: “Nashville is our home and we are proud to represent its multi-cultural, hardworking, talented population. Nashville is home to world’s best musicians, teachers, doctors, and athletes and we aim to continue this tradition by developing the world’s best soccer players.”
Inter Nashville FC will play their first NPSL season in 2017 in the Southeast Conference of the South Region, so make sure to watch when they take the field.
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