A potential soccer league in Sugar Hill has been on the radar for years, dating back to a city council work session in January of 2010 on the subject.
Slightly more than four years later, the “potential” label is off. Soccer in Sugar Hill is almost here.
The new All-In Ftbol Club will begin play with a fall season, fielding recreational, academy, select and men’s teams for all ages. The organization will play predominantly at Gary Pirkle Park, but also has space at nearby E.E. Robinson Park.
“We are pumped about launching our own soccer program at Sugar Hill,” Sugar Hill mayor Steve Edwards said. “We waited until we were in a position to do it right. Waiting for the right partner, we found All-In Futbol Club, which has a professional management team experienced, exciting and willing to take our program to the next level.”
All-In is headed up by veteran coach Mark MacKain, a former NASL and MISL soccer player who was drafted by the Atlanta Chiefs straight out of high school in 1979 and played for U.S. youth national teams and Olympic teams. A chronic knee injury ended his career prematurely, but he made his mark elsewhere in soccer through coaching.
MacKain coached his four sons in youth soccer, beginning a 21-year coaching career with Atlanta Fire United that included working as director of coaching and director of operations from 2006-13. He coached U.S. Development Academy (USDA) and Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), and has worked or currently works with ODP Region III (2001-10), U.C. Club PDP (2013) and Super Y National (2010-present). He has served on the U.S. Club Executive Board since 2009 and is a regular presenter for the NSCAA/U.S. Club Director of Coaching Course.
“I can take credit for about 10 percent of this,” MacKain said. “Friends have helped so much. Friends who are professionals in other industries, former team managers and coaches. I can’t say thank you enough. It’s gone very well. I feel good saying it’s not going to be a good program, it’s going to be a great one.”
MacKain, Edwards and fellow Sugar Hill officials Bob Hail (city manager) and Andy McQuagge (recreation director), as well as MacKain’s other contacts, have worked much of this year on the details of the new league. Among the positives already for the league is the venue at Gary Pirkle Park.
The park will have two full-sized, synthetic turf fields, one or two under-6 synthetic turf fields and two natural grass under-12 fields. The field is E.E. Robinson also is natural grass. The park will be available for the league on both Saturdays and Sundays.
“They have first-class facilities and I think people are going to appreciate the fact that with a sports turf complex, the potential for rainouts is reduced drastically,” MacKain said. “We’ll be able to hold training sessions and games without much rescheduling. That’s a huge plus with busy day-to-day lives and schedules. As Steve put it, he wants this to cater to the Sugar Hill community first and foremost and we will do that. On top of that, he wants this to eventually become the best club in the area. Because of that, we want to extend our reach in the surrounding communities.”
MacKain’s ties to the local soccer community are deep, including the careers of his own sons. He coached, among others, Edwards’ daughter Abbi (who now plays at Valdosta State) and Sean Johnson, now a star for Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and one of the goalkeepers for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Johnson was quick to offer his support to the fledgling league.
“I’m excited about the creation of All-In FC,” said Johnson, a Brookwood grad. “Through my years of development as a player and person, Mark MacKain was instrumental in giving me the foundation and understanding for the game and life that helped get me to the next level. It’s great to know that players all over Atlanta will have the same opportunity with Mark and his staff and I look forward to what the future holds for this club.”
Online registration begins this week at www.allinfc.com, where more information about the club is available. A pre-tryout camp is already planned for May 20-22, followed by academy tryouts from May 27-29 and select tryouts from June 3-5. Recreational sign-ups are available beginning this week as well.
The years of interest in a Sugar Hill league should provide a nice first-year boost for All-In.
“I’m told the largest club starting from scratch was 440 (players signed up),” MacKain said. “I’d like to see somewhere north of 500 for us. Somewhere between 500 and 650 would be great. We can comfortably accommodate that number for the first year and run a respectable program. It would not be too large out of the gate, but it would be enough numbers to have good, quality, meaningful games and training sessions.”
What: All-In Ftbol Club
Where: Gary Pirkle Park and E.E. Robinson Park, Sugar Hill
Registration/more information: www.allinfc.com