WALLA WALLA, WA —– Down in the far right corner of our state the sport of soccer is as big as it ever has been. Beyond the annual top-notch performances of the Walla Walla CC Warriors in the NWAACC, there is also a growing group of adult leagues and clubs. We reported recently that MFC Walla Walla won a local tournament. We’ve had our eye on the cub for a while now, in part because they present themselves so well on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/mfcWallaWalla. So we contacted the club and talked with co-founder Andres Crespo about how MFC came to be.
“MFC was started by my friend Noah Reed and me at the beginning of 2013,” Crespo explains. “We used to play together on other teams, but we weren’t happy with how the teams were managed and thought we could do better. We decided to create a team that didn’t necessarily need to have the best talent in town, but had players with character and discipline. Sometimes in soccer it doesn’t matter how good you are–if you’re not willing to cooperate with your teammates, it’s going to be hard for you to connect on any team.”
“We play in the Latin American Soccer League Walla Walla, which is the most competitive among the surrounding cities (College Place, Milton Freewater). Teams in this league have participated for 5-plus years–they stay together for a while and are continually evolving.”
The adult soccer scene in Walla Walla continues to grow. “The soccer scene in the valley is expanding to College Place and Milton Freewater,” says Crespo. “There are now three adult male leagues (Walla Walla, College Place, Milton) with Walla Walla being the most competitive. They all have pretty good skill levels and encourage a positive environment. The Walla Walla league is comprised mostly of latinos, but we are also fortunate to have players from Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla University, and Whitman College participating in leagues. When it starts getting warmer, food vendors come to the fields, people bring their families–it brings the community together. Besides playing in tournaments in Yakima and the Tri-Cities, in Walla Walla we play at Tietan Park and Mill Creek Sportsplex.”
Crespo and club are willing to grow and improve naturally as a side. “As a new team, we don’t really take losses very hard–it’s a learning experience for us. No one likes to lose, but I try to keep the team composed and let them know that we cannot just show up on Sunday and expect magic to happen. It takes time and perseverance. Even though everyone has their jobs and families, and there’s no pay for playing on this team, all the players are willing to train hard and cooperate with each other. We understand that to win titles, it will take time, but it doesn’t stop us from giving it our all in every practice and game.”
So why did Crespo help found a soccer club? It goes back to his childhood love of the game. “From a very early age in Ecuador I was always involved in soccer. I eventually played on professional teams there that had strong coaching staffs. When I came to the States I played in college and for a couple regional teams. I always had the intrigue in my head that this or that could be done better; I definitely thought I could help whatever team I was on to improve themselves. The only way to see if my ideas would work was to create my own team. When I first started MFC Walla Walla I thought I could just be a player/coach, and that it would be easy. How hard could it be to just put eleven players on the field, tell them their positions and let them at it? Within a couple months I realized what only managers can understand: the difficulty and delicacy of managing and balancing skills, personality, and character. The pressure is eleven times greater on me at each game than if I were just a player showing up to play. But with each success, the satisfaction is eleven times greater.”
So why call a Walla Walla club “Madrid FC?” It is as you might expect. “I grew up watching Real Madrid C.F. (club de futbol) in Ecuador,” Crespo tells goalWA.net, “and have been a true fan of the club since then; I study their games and history, and try to employ some of their tactics on the field–learning from professionals and adapting what I can to our level. It seemed completely natural to me to name my own team after my favorite.”
Looking forward, Crespo has a list of goals for his club. “I want to create a solid team that can compete in tournaments across the state and demonstrate an elevated level of commitment, play, ethics and discipline, as well as provide an opportunity for upcoming players to demonstrate their talents. More than that, however, I want to create a good group of friends who know each other and support each other on and off the field.”
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