JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – To determine if you are good enough to join a sports team, there is a long and lengthy process and, in the end, it still might not be enough to land a spot on the roster.
Now, Jacksonville University is offering an alternative to this.
In the fall of 2016, after not being able to make it onto the JU varsity soccer team, Ngog-Nliba Balenla Ba Nguimbous did not want to give up on his dream of playing soccer in college. He still had a chance to play with the intramural teams, but after the school cancelled these events for an entire year, he had the idea of creating a separate soccer club.
“I recognized I was not the only student that had a passion for the sport, and I wanted to make a club that could play for fun and at a competitive level too,” said Nguimbous, who is also a member of JU’s Student Government Association.
After attending meetings and talking to multiple advisors, he and a group of friends started what is now called the FC Phins, a soccer club for students who have a passion for playing and want to have fun in a safe and healthy way, all while promoting school spirit.
“For me, it is a great way to de-stress after a long week of school,” said Micah Cowan, member of the FC Phins.
After the Phins started to expand, they got in touch with other schools in Florida who also had soccer clubs and set up games. The season starts in fall every year and continues into the spring. Soon, Phins will start to compete for championships against schools like Florida State University and other colleges in Florida.
The first game played was against JU’s rival University of North Florida, and the team lost 4-1.
So far in the 2017-2018 season, the team is 5-3-2, but the record includes a five-game winning streak.
Nguimbous’s goal is to be able to play for the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association, an organization that regulates multiple collegiate sports at a collegiate level across the United States. Currently, the Phins play against schools across Florida and are in search of their first championship cup in Gainesville.
“If we still do not have enough funding to join the NIRSA, then I still hope to keep competing at cup events against FSU and other colleges in Florida next spring,” Nguimbous said.
For some, playing for FC Phins is as much about comradery as it is about competition.
“Being a member of this club is not just about the games and the wins,” said Jared Hamilton, who started playing with the Phins fall of 2017. “You get to meet new people and learn new techniques from other players. It also helps better life skills.”
Anyone can join the team, but the one thing that is asked of every player is commitment. The team practices twice a week and plays games throughout the semester, including away games.
“FC Phins is composed by students from across the world,” said Hamilton. “Our personalities are very different, but the team has very good chemistry which helps get around that.”
As for Cowan, dedication to the team is both a challenge and an inspiration.
“It’s not just a couple of us who have the drive to actually play soccer,” Cowan said.”If you are on this team, then you better be ready to give your all both on the field and off.”