PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Panama City semi-pro soccer team Florida Roots will open up their inaugural season on Saturday at Tommy Oliver Stadium.
The team starts off their 12-game season in the National Premier Soccer League with a matchup against the Tallahassee Soccer Club.
“I think it’s major I think it’s a good thing for the community, for Florida, for this part of Florida actually cause soccer isn’t all that big around here and it’s getting there, so I want to be one of the person contributing to that,” Florida Roots soccer player Ricardo Smith said.
Florida Roots is incredible excited to begin their first-ever season and show the Panhandle what they are made of.
The team is staying true to their name as 80 percent of the team is made up of players from Florida.
“I just got done with my college season, but playing back home in Panama City, at Tommy Oliver, a great stadium. I have all my friends and family who want to come so it’s gonna be something special, I hope everyone comes out and watches and we’re trying to spread the word. It’s just gonna be a great time playing in front of my friends and family again, playing in the city I grew up in,” Florida Roots player Taylor Bradley said.
The local roots even extend to the coaching staff as the team is being led by Larry Cecchini, who is the girls head soccer coach at Arnold High School.
Cecchini helped lead the Marlins to a state title game appearance this past season and said he’s excited to have the opportunity to coach another team in the Panhandle.
“It’s nice to be able to mix it up, so coaching the girls was a lot of fun, coming out here and coaching a group of guys like this that are really trying to take it to the next level offers me some new challenges which always keeps things interesting, so yeah I’m having a good time,” Cecchini said.
The team hoping to have a good showing on the pitch on Saturday and give fans something to root for, like their name suggests.
“We’re new but we’re gonna be coming. We’re gonna show people all around in this new league that we’re gonna play our own game and we’re gonna compete with everyone around us,” Bradley said.
This may be their first season in the league, but the players and coaches still have expectations for this year and the years to come.
“I really think a couple years down the road we’re really gonna be vying for conference titles and maybe even beyond, so I’m really excited for them, really excited to get going,” Cecchini said.
The kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Tommy Oliver Stadium.
To get tickets for the game, click here.