Oakland Pro hopes to unite the community through soccer

Oakland Pro hopes to unite the community through soccer

Sialei Manuleleua,

Oakland native Benno Nagel played college soccer at San Francisco State back in 2005. Shortly after his collegiate career ended, he went to Cal State East Bay to earn his master’s degree.

But like a lot of athletes, after his soccer career was over Benno still wanted to be involved with soccer in some way. He coached for a year in the North American Soccer League, the same league as San Francisco’s new pro soccer team, the SF Deltas. After that, Nagel had the idea of bringing a semi-pro team back to his hometown of Oakland.

That idea has become much bigger; they are now looking into an professional team for both men and women. Nagel is now the founder of Oakland Pro Soccer, a local organization that also hopes can benefit the local Latino and African American community in Oakland. Benno said that they will aim for personal interactions with people in the community who enjoy playing soccer.

On Oct. 18, they held “The Kick Off,” an event aimed at promoting the unique potential of soccer to build positive, healthy communities. The event included panel discussion and networking with Andy Dolich, a former Executive with the Oakland Athletics, Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers; John O’Brien, a former soccer player with Ajax and the US Men’s National Team; and a US Soccer Athlete Council member. David Jackson, who is with the Warriors, also spoke. They were able to have Q & A panels with the estimated 150 people that showed up.

People at the event asked where the team would play and practice, how the club could affect youth soccer development, what would the stadium would look like and how women would be involved.

“As of right now I have people who own multi-billion dollar businesses who help a local guy like me when it comes to money for this project,” Nagel said. He also explained how he has to keep that information private since things are still in the works.

According to the Statistics Portal, the number of soccer players in the U.S. has steadily increased since 2009 rounding up to about and estimated 15 million, the highest number to date. San Francisco just recently started an American professional soccer team based in San Francisco called the Deltas. It was founded in 2016 but made its debut in North American League in 2017.

San Francisco Delta’s mission statement is “Community Impact #OnlyTogether.” They have a plan that aims specifically towards three causes: ending homelessness, empowering women, employing low income youth and also free community tickets.

Oakland Pro Soccer has met with the commissioner of Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League to talk about requirements and exactly what it would look like having a professional team in the Bay Area. The team homes to build a stadium and start a team early in 2018, Nagel said.