An East Valley native who grew up in a close-knit family, Travis Breinholt learned long ago that it wasn’t always easy to blend family and his favorite sport, soccer.
Travis, who started soccer when he was four, played for the Cisco Soccer Club throughout his school years. He and his brothers, Damon and Tyson, played together at Corona del Sol High School, where Travis lettered all four years, and, in 1996, served as team captain and was named MVP, 1st Team All State and 1st Team All Arizona. He went on to play for Mesa Community College and was called to serve an LDS mission in Venezuela, where soccer (called “fútbol”) is king across the entire continent.
Travis says the conflicts soccer posed for families were even more apparent when he and his wife Jessica were raising their five boys and a girl. As his children started to play, he continued to be involved, coaching for Southbank Soccer Club, Gilbert Youth Soccer, San Tan Legacy, San Tan Soccer Club and others.
“My older boys played competitive soccer for six years and were on some of the best teams in Arizona,” he says, but, as their skill increased, so did the pressure to play on Sundays.
“A lot of games, tournament matches, especially, are on Sunday,” Travis says. In addition, practices often interfered with Family Home Evening, Young Men’s meetings and other family and church activities.
Gilbert’s Jeff Erickson noticed the same thing. As competitive soccer players, his sons were pressured multiple times to play on Sundays. He was grateful his sons chose to forego Sunday play, but, as they grew older, “it became more difficult to make the best teams. It was possible [for coaches] to find other players that were equally qualified but would play on Sunday,” he says.
“I never believed that to be a good soccer player you had to play on the Sabbath,” Jeff says. He and Travis discussed the options and talked with other concerned parents as well.
“For a few years, we talked about the possibilities of a different kind of league, one that would be more supportive of families and wouldn’t require playing on Sunday,” Travis says.
Then, while listening to General Conference in 2015, Erickson had a strong impression that it was time to start such a league.
The No Sunday Fútbol Club (NSFC) was born.
With Erickson as Chairman of the Board and Breinholt as president, the NSFC began official operations in January 2016.
“We will never play or practice on Sunday. We don’t practice on Mondays, and, for teams with older kids, [we] schedule around Mutual, ending practice at 6:45 those nights,” Travis says.
Many were dubious at first.
“We were told, for a long, long time, that we would never be able to pull it off. We’d never be able to get enough kids signed up, we’d never be able to be competitive,” Travis says.
Yet initial tryouts drew nearly 700 youth. They put together 32 teams their first season and opened “one of the nicest complexes in the state,” Travis says. He adds, “No expense was spared,” in putting together the complex at Sossaman and Warner roads in Gilbert, where they have five fields and parking for 300.
In addition to attracting LDS families, “We have been supported by other clubs, people of other Christian faiths, and many leaders and coaches not of our faith.”
Now, Travis says, the challenge is to raise the necessary funds to support the growth while continuing to pursue their ultimate goal of providing “an excellent soccer experience while keeping family values intact.”
For information, visit www.nsfcstrikers.com or call 480-589-2168.