The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
SILVERDALE, WA — George Vukic is excited about the prospect of taking the helm of the Evergreen Premier League’s WestSound FC Men. The Director of Coaching for the club has had plenty of success around Puget Sound over the years. Now WSFC will challenge him with a chance to build an adult semi-pro men’s team.
“We are very excited about league play for a WestSound men’s team, and we get a very good vibe about the organization and detail coming from EPLWA,” Vukic says in a recent email Q & A. “As you probably know, we already have a men’s team off the ground, composed of many Olympic College players and other talented, committed local players. We have played some friendlies already with the likes of Bellingham, South Sound, Sounders Development, and others. We have a jump on things and the timing is perfect.”
WestSound FC is the premier youth club on the peninsula, gaining increased status through their participation in Washington Youth Soccer’s elite Regional Clubs League (RCL). Now those RCL boys have a chance to continue wearing red and black even after their U-19 days have ended.
“We envision a lot of excitement and momentum resulting from this path (joining the Evergreen Premier League.) Our strong youth environment creates a large, talented player pool, many of whom are at a loss as to where to play after graduating from high school. A large percentage of graduating players choose to remain in Kitsap. Olympic College players, as well as those returning from other schools, will also create an ongoing pool from which we can draw each year. It will be a default option in the spring for OC players. We will work to garner community support so there will be an ongoing expectation to field a quality team. Also, WestSound has been a youth club in the area for 30+ years which means built-in community backing. We work with nearly every talented player in our area at some point in their career.”
It is possible that the WestSound FC Men might play their home matches literally 30 seconds by car away from the PDL Kitsap Pumas, who pay their players a small stipend during their season. Can the two teams find ways to work together? “We will be providing soccer for players that want to keep their NCAA eligibility,” Vukic says of the WestSound Men, “for those who work but still want to play at a very high level, and for those who for any other reason (age constraints, positional, etc) the Pumas are not the right fit. We will collaborate to find a good home for all players with the correct ability and desire.”
Now the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas will be put to the test. Is the soccer talent good enough to go up against clubs across the state with larger player pools and Division One schools in their own backyards? Vukic has a plan.
“We intend to recruit in players from within the community men’s leagues. These teams represent every demographic of Kitsap. There are many ties between our current men’s group and teams in the area right now. As the WestSound DOC, I know every high school coach, have met with every youth board member, know all the major decision makers in Kitsap, and have very positive relations with all of them. I just finished a 7-year tenure as BHS high school coach myself. We can galvanize the soccer community to create county-wide support.”
It sure sounds like Vukic wishes the season could start right now instead of May 2014.
“There has long been a need for an effort like this in Kitsap,” the DOC says. Then he adds: “On a personal note, I hope to do something special with this program and am thrilled by the prospect of it.”