Semi-professional soccer is coming to the Olympic Peninsula.
The newly-formed Northern Peninsula FC (NPFC) has been accepted as part of the brand-new second division of the Western Washington Premier League.
Port Townsend Joost Besijn founded NPFC out of a desire to give opportunities to what he sees as a strong local soccer scene that didn’t have much of an outlet.
“There’s a strong soccer community here,” Besijn said. “High school teams and college teams and youth teams get so well supported. There’s so much great pickup soccer in the region.
“But there’s no higher-level outlet for those people to show just how good soccer is here, and we wanted to give them that chance.”
Besijn says that the club will be able to use players essentially from Hood Canal to Forks. They’ll be playing their home games at Port Townsend’s Memorial Field, while training at the Albert Haller Playfields in Sequim.
NPFC will be hosting their first tryouts at the Haller playfields at 1 p.m. on March 8 to help set their initial roster, which Besijn says they’re looking to have set at around 22 or 23 players.
Interested players should contact the club ahead of time (email@example.com) to reserve a spot at the tryouts — though walk-ups will be accepted as well — and there will be a $30 trial fee for everyone at the tryout.
Interest has already been high in tryouts, with Besijn noting in early February that 15 players had already signed up.
“We want to represent as much of this region as possible,” Besijn said. “We want people from all over the northern Olympic Peninsula to be proud of this team and feel like a part of it.”
Besijn added that while the team will play at Port Townsend’s Memorial Field for their inaugural season, he said he’s interested in having home games elsewhere on the peninsula in the future to help bring the team to everyone it represents.
The team has also already hired their first head coach, Sequim local Juan Carlos Cisneros. Most recently an assistant coach at Peninsula College and a longtime fixture with the Storm King FC youth system, Cisneros has longstanding ties to the region’s rich soccer history.
“We’re so excited to have Juan on board,” Besijn said. “He understands what we want to do, and we really think that he’s the right man to take this club forward.”
One of the exciting aspects to NPFC playing in the Western Washington Premier League is that the WWPL is one of the few semi-pro leagues around the country that has multiple divisions, and thus promotion and relegation between them — meaning that a team that performs well enough in the second division can move up to the first division between seasons.
NPFC will be one of six teams in the second division’s inaugural season, including Gala FC (Marysville), Harbor Force (Gig Harbor), Issaquah FC Gunners, Lacey FC and Nido Aguila Seattle U-19.
The WWPL season is set to begin on April 25 and run into early July, though an exact schedule has not yet been finalized.
“It’s going to be an interesting challenge to manage,” Besijn said. “We think we can be successful given the kind of talent we know is out here.”
NPFC already have one major sponsor in area hardware store Henery Hardware, but are looking for additional sponsorship.
“We want to make this as affordable for our players as possible,” Besijn said. “We’re only asking for them to pay for their tryout and player card ($35). We’re going to take care of their kit costs and the like, which gets expensive.”
The club is also running a gofundme campaign (www.gofundme.com/f/northern-peninsula-football-club-startup) to help with their initial costs for training equipment and the like.
Contact Besijn for questions or information about the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.