MatSu United FC


Where to Begin? Where it Began!

Alaska City FC - How We Got Here
Published Feb 13, 2019

I was watching a match last year between one of the men’s recreation teams I managed at the time and another team in the league.  This other team had a standout player who had been a fantastic high school player, and one I thought for sure would be playing collegiately.  I asked my friend, who was sitting next to me, where the other player had gone to college to play soccer that previous year.  His reply, “He didn’t.  He stayed in Alaska.”  Far from being an isolated situation, this is the reality facing so many Alaskan soccer players. 

Leave the state I love, to play the game I love? 

Or, stay home in Alaska, and accept that my “best football days,” are those days behind me.

For the longest time, this was the choice that our best players had to make.  There is no higher level of soccer after high school and club, no collegiate option within the state.  Additionally, for those players that do go off and have successful college careers, four years later they return to the same issue.  22 years old, collegiate career on their soccer resume, and that is the end of the soccer journey.  More accurately, that WAS the end of their soccer journey.  Not anymore. 

Fast forward several months after the aforementioned game, and my son approaches me with an idea.  Bringing the UPSL to Alaska, and starting the first semi-professional soccer team in the history of the state.  He brought the excitement and the passion to make it happen, I countered with all the reasons it was unrealistic.  All the things we would need to do to make this work.  All the reasons we couldn’t do it.  Our viewpoints collided, we debated the concept and the execution.  I hedged.  I offered resistance.  He pushed back with nothing but enthusiasm and spirit.  I caved.  He won.  Thus began a fantastic journey framed in hard work, long hours, and growing anticipation of our first UPSL season.  It has been incredibly difficult, and incredibly rewarding.  Along this journey, I know that I have encountered Resistance at every turn.  And yes, I capitalized Resistance to give it a name, an homage to the fantastic author Steven Pressfield, who has this to say about Resistance.

“Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you're feeling massive Resistance, the good news is that it means there's tremendous love there too… The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you - and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles)

But as we move this team forward, with every next step another historic move as pioneers of semi-professional soccer in Alaska, I know that it will all be worth it.  The foundation we are laying today will be experienced in a completely different manner for future generations of soccer players.  Thanks to the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL), and my son’s unbridled entrepreneurial spirit.

(This article is the first in a series by Brett Banks, General Manager, regarding Alaska City FC’s first season in the Alaskan Division of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Premier Soccer League)