Running a soccer organization requires a lot of important aspects, and for Tobacco Road FC they're making sure to hit on all the important points.
Although it's often easy to focus on the players, coaches and front office staff that make the club work from an outward perspective, Tobacco Road has done a tremendous job of supporting local soccer and getting its community involved in the Raleigh/Durham area. This includes the club's long-standing relationship with local youth soccer organization Triangle United Soccer Association.
Additionally, the North Carolina-based club has created a unique partnership with 4th Dimension Coffee to co-brand a Tobacco Road FC-themed flavor called Los Toros.
Tobacco Road co-owners Cedric Burke and Seth Kaplan spoke with USLPDL.com about his club's community outreach, their growing brand and how the team continues to field top players on a regular basis.
PDL: Since joining the Premier Development League back in 2017, Tobacco Road has strived to be a community-based team. How does Tobacco Road FC fit into in the Raleigh-Durham area?
Tobacco Road FC is committed to capturing and developing homegrown and local talent. Our club was built from an amateur team serving as a home for the best former collegiate and unsigned local professional players for the last 15 years. We maintain this pipeline by recruiting the area’s best collegiate standouts and tapping into our vibrant community-based leagues, including La Liga, TASL and OCASL. Our players and coaches actively contribute to our off-the-field initiatives that are vitally important to our club’s community-centered culture. We work in synergy with our youth club affiliate, Triangle United Soccer Association, to maintain an awareness of the area’s best emerging prep talent. We have ongoing partnerships with the YMCA and local parks and recreation departments to facilitate their soccer outreach programs. We also launched frequent, low-cost youth development clinics earlier this year. Our club is passionate about fostering the expansion of local soccer.
PDL; What can we expect for the 2019 season in the way of changes or exciting announcements for the Club?
We will continue expanding our brand presence through strategic collaborations and initiatives. We recently partnered with 4th Dimension Coffee to co-brand a Tobacco Road FC-themed flavor called Los Toros. It is currently being sold in our area at Cocoa Cinnamon Coffee Shop and has been received extremely well by the community. We have a few exciting merchandise and sponsorship-related alliances launching early next year. We will also be expanding our relationship with Triangle United Soccer Association as we work together to provide a positive and supportive environment for youth development through soccer in our community.
PDL: This year, you fielded a number of top players from across the country, as well as a number of PDL Top Prospects. What type of player do you look to bring into the club when you are recruiting across the nation?
We are located in a soccer hot bed with many of the better soccer programs in the country in our backyard. We have been fortunate to establish great relationships with many of these schools and are appreciative of their consistent support and player referrals. Although we recruit the most talented group of players as possible, we are always mindful of bringing in young men willing to adopt the culture of our club. We are a blue collar organization that plays with a certain level of grit and intensity. Our mission is to provide a constructive platform for development that serves as a bridge to the next step in their careers. Most importantly, we want players who embrace the challenge of dropping their individual allegiances and who unite to passionately represent our club.
PDL: What is your relationship like with Cedric and what was the main driving factor behind Tobacco Road FC?
Cedric and I have a very collaborative relationship and are both extremely passionate about our community and what the game of soccer can do for it. We created Tobacco Road FC from this shared passion, and we are committed to building a franchise that is highly respected by its players and fiercely supported by its fans.
PDL: The South Atlantic Division is arguably the toughest division in the PDL, how do you navigate these highly competitive waters and plan for the season ahead?
The South Atlantic Division is extremely competitive. We’ve built strong rivalries with several clubs in our division – some preceding our time in the PDL. We find it critical to have a balanced mix of the best available collegiate and prep talent, as well as veteran leadership who annually reestablish and maintain our culture. Since many of our players are locally based, they have a high level of familiarity with the players and staff of other clubs in our division. We expect to battle every time we step on the field. We fully embrace this challenge and are honored to compete with such respected franchises.