It's time for another season of Fort Worth Vaqueros soccer, and at Tuesday's work session, the Fort Worth City Council received a briefing on the club from owner Michael Hitchcock.
The Vaqueros will begin their sixth season of minor league play in the National Premier Soccer League Saturday at 7 p.m. against Tyler at Farrington Field.
Hitchcock started the presentation by congratulating Mayor Betsy Price and the council for their clean sweep in winning re-elections this past Saturday.
"Hopefully the Vaqueros get inspired and get as many wins as you got," he said.
Hitchcock said that since the club began the relationship with the community has continually grown stronger. Players on the team are averaging over 100 appearances per year, and the community even picks the team's uniform design each year.
"Being an ambassador and role model is as important as being a great soccer player," Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock noted several milestones accomplished by the team in 2018, including:
*Opening Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park in June as underused tennis courts were turned into a world-class soccer facility. The first official event at the facility was the Fitworth Cup, featuring Fort Worth area businesses.
*Launching a free youth academy in July 2018.
*Jamie Lovegrave won the award for the NPSL National Goal of the Year as voted on by teams, media members, fans, and supporters for his goal against Brownsville on June 23.
*The team won its first playoff game in its history, defeating Brownsville 5-0.
Hitchcock reminded folks of the team's goals set at their beginning, noting these accomplishments:
*Free youth academy.
*500 community appearances.
*Grow the Vaqueros family, season tickets, and sponsors each year.
*Win a conference championship.
*Help 10 players make it to a higher level in professional soccer in the U.S. and internationally.
*Play a leadership role in growing the sport in Fort Worth.
Hitchcock said Vaqueros pick-up soccer at the field occurs five times each week. They also host 7V7 adult leagues.
Continuing a tradition, Miss Fort Worth (Landry Champlin in 2019) drew the season sponsor from 102 lottery balls. The 2019 sponsor is Pinnacle Bank.
The team will once again be playing home games at Farrington Field. Season tickets are on sale for $100 for adults and $75 for youth. Fort Worth School District students, faculty, and employees get in free with their FWISD Card.
The club is still working on building a community soccer stadium, something the council agreed they'd like to see happen as well. District 3 Councilman Brian Byrd said it would work well to coincide with the return of the World Cup competition to the United States in 2026.
"We need higher level soccer facilities in Fort Worth," Byrd said. "It's one of the great ways to get families to come together. I'd love to see a world-class facility for those guys who come over."
District 2 Councilman Carlos Flores said, "Even though I don't play on a soccer team anymore, it's still in my blood. Thanks Hitch."
To which Mayor Betsy Price added, "Hitch, your vision and your energy always astound me. Five years ago your vision about this was spot-on."
Hitchcock issued an invitation to all to come to Saturday's season opener.
"It's always a festive event," he said. "Our fans are passionate and replicate what you see on television right here in our backyard in Fort Worth."