Friday, December 19, 2014

El Padrino Soccer Still Growing in Wyandotte County

One of the largest soccer suppliers and biggest soccer league organizers in Kansas City cut the ribbon on a new, expanded store late Friday afternoon.

El Padrino Soccer recently moved from 848 Central to a bigger newly renovated store at 708 Simpson (just a little bit northwest of 7th and Central).

It was misty outside, but warm and inviting inside
the new store at 708 Simpson.
The new store is just west of 7th and Central.

Owner Raul Villegas welcomed several dignitaries along with dozens of kids and their families to his warm and inviting new space. El Padrino sells every piece of soccer gear imaginable from cleats to uniforms to soccer balls and training gear.

Some of the dignitaries in attendance (from left):
Carlos Gomez (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City)
Sandra Olivas-Talavera (Brotherhood Bank and Trust)
Raul Villegas (El Padrino Soccer)
Mark Holland (Unified Government Mayor)
El Padrino boasts a huge inventory of soccer essentials.
Raul Villegas presents Mayor Holland with
a personalized jersey of the Mexican National Team.

In addition to operating one of the premier soccer outfitting stores in the Kansas City area, Mr. Villegas is also the driving force behind the El Padrino Premier Soccer League.

Mr. Villegas founded the league in March of 2009. Since that time it has grown dramatically. Mr. Villegas estimates that he has over 700 youth registered as members of the league. They range in age from 3 to 17. About 80% are boys and 20% are girls. He estimates that about 50% are from east-central Wyandotte County (right where District 2 is located). When you count kids who play as guests of members, he states that over 1,200 kids play in the league on an annual basis.

Although his team fees are generally half of what teams would pay to play in other leagues in the city, he says that many of his kids often face a challenge coming up with the money.

His coaches are all volunteers and he says that, in addition to coaching, they often drive kids to games and pitch in to pay referees when needed.

Mr. Villegas was born in Mexico and migrated to the United States in March 1993. According to a bio on the Sporting KC web site, "At the age of 5 he started to follow Club America, a soccer team in the Mexican league, and he said since that day he knew he wanted to grow up to be surrounded by the Soccer industry."

Time to cut that ribbon!

I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Mr. Villegas and Mr. Hector Solorio last spring when they gave me a tour of their new indoor soccer facility, Soccer Nation, located at 520 S. 55th St.

This incredible 40,000 square foot complex is located in an old, converted warehouse and features two AstroTurf covered indoor soccer fields. The field are in use daily and the day I visited, the building was literally packed with young soccer players and their families.

The parking lot was packed outside of Soccer Nation last spring.

Great areas for families and spectators around both fields.
Although he would like for his league to hold games year 'round at Soccer Nation, Mr. Villegas says that it's just too expensive to air condition the uninsulated building in the summer, so his teams all currently drive to Grandview for summer games. He is looking hard to find enough land in Wyandotte County to build seven outdoor fields so that his teams never have to make a road trip to play a home game.

This team was warming up to play when I stopped by.
Hope I brought them good luck!
If you'd like to learn more about Soccer Nation or El Padrino, click the links below or visit either facility.

El Padrino
708 Simpson
Kansas City, KS 66102

El Padrino Premier Soccer League

Soccer Nation
520 S. 55th St
Kansas City, KS 66106
913 208-8661

Have a great week!
~ Brian