TEMPE, AZ — It's time to get the ball rolling on a new professional women's soccer team in the East Valley.
FC Arizona, which already has a men's team, is expanding the franchise to include a team for ladies as part of the Women's Premier Soccer League. The team will begin play in the 2019 season.
President of FC Arizona, Scott Taylor, says the men's team has been building a fan base, but he started to realize there were a lot more boys in the stands than girls and wanted to change that.
"I think they just couldn't relate the same, so this is important for the community," said Taylor.
The team will join the Desert Conference competing against clubs in north Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and New Mexico. Most players who try out will likely be fresh out of college but there's room for ladies who never really hung up their cleats and stayed on the field in community leagues or coaching.
"here's some old vets out there who are still pretty tough," said Hannah Bolton, a lifelong player who says the opportunities after college to stay in the game dropped off so she switched to coaching. She's currently heading the women's club team at Grand Canyon University.
Unlike men's soccer, for women there is a big difference between that professional level and that drop-off from college. This fills that gap and I think that's the beauty of this league," said Bolton.
Taylor is also anticipating that by putting women back on the field at an elite level, it will draw more families with young girls who play soccer out to the games. He has big plans to build a new East Valley stadium and educational soccer complex for youth teams, hoping to lock down the location and put shovels in the ground in 2021.
"It's exciting that these girls can play at a higher level, in front of their family, in front of their friends at home," said Taylor.
The WPSL is the second tier of women's soccer in the United States, right below the National Women's Soccer League in which Team USA will be competing to defend its title in the Women's World Cup in June.
Open Tryouts for the FC Arizona Women's team will be Friday, May 10th, and Saturday, May 11th, at 6 p.m. at Tempe Sports Complex.