"We live by a set of values as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, and show that during our games we play."
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Good morning AP readers! I'm writing this to you from sunny Albuquerque after a fascinating evening yesterday with Ron and Larry of Sol FC and Andrew and Jeff from the Sandinistas. A lot of fun stories got shared, and I hope some of them find a home here on AP soon. #NonLeagueLife
Now, today's interview is with Bragg FC, a team made up of members of the US Military in Fayetteville, NC. They're a brand new team in the UPSL's Southeastern Conference alongside Lowcountry United and Savannah Clovers. I'm really excited to see how these guys do, and hope you are too. Check it out.
Tell readers a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Bragg FC?
My name is Kyle Furfari, Owner/Chief Executive Financial Officer (CEFO) for Bragg Football Club, a new Expansion soccer team in the United Premier Soccer League's Southeastern Conference. I am originally from Toms River, New Jersey and spent many years in Montrose, Colorado. I am currently and Active Duty Army Officer, working with 95th CivilAffairs Brigade in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I am a Medical Operations and Intelligence Officer and have been in the Army 11 years. I came on board to Bragg FC in January 2018 to bring it to new heights and help expand soccer throughout the Fayetteville, Spring Lake, Raeford, Fort Bragg, and other surrounding areas. I wanted to be part of something that could provide young players the chance to excel, give them the necessary coaching and mentorship, and offer that opportunity to play at the next level.
As the CEFO of Bragg FC, I am the direct business liaison for all matters that have to do with the Club. I work through all sponsorships, business ventures and contracts, and control the teams overall finances.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer, and what got you interested in starting a team?
I have been playing soccer since i was 4 years old. I have been playing competitive soccer as long as I can remember and have competed on multiple club teams throughout the years, starting with U12 throughout High school varsity and then continuing collegiately. I was a goalkeeper for the All Army Soccer team in 2012, which we took the Silver Medal in the Armed Forces Tournament in San Diego, CA. I have played with Club teams throughout my time in the Army, and have been playing with Bragg FC since I arrived in North Carolina, July 2017.
I have loved soccer since I was young, and as I get older, I realize the importance of creating opportunities for young players. Professional Development teams are necessary for young players to make it to the next level. It starts with boiling a professional team that can influence the local community in a positive manner. That is why Bragg FC exists.
What has convinced you that now is the time to start a high level men's team in Fayetteville?
Jose and I have been playing together since 2011-2012. We both have always had a dream to be part of a high level Men's soccer club that could have a positive influence on the local community. Fayetteville specifically has a large number of Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and dependents of military families. These members of the Armed Forces and dependents need the same opportunities as any other player outside the military communities. We also believed that with the core group of guys that have been together since 2015, that Bragg Football Club had a strong chance to make an impact in the league. We both understood that the UPSL is growing, and has continued to grow exponentially over the last few years. This was the right time to get involved as Owners and to bring our team to the forefront of professional soccer.
You were recently announced as an expansion team for the upcoming UPSL season. What about the UPSL stood out to you and convinced you that this is the best league for Bragg FC?
The United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) was formed in Los Angeles in 2011 with the goal of providing a competitive league platform for players seeking to play at higher levels. The UPSL is the fastest-growing of its kind in the United States, offering the best opportunity for players to compete and move to the next level. From an inaugural slate of 10 clubs in Southern California, the UPSL has grown to feature over 125 teams across the United States, each UPSL team individually owned and operated. This league gives everyone a chance to be a success as an Owner and continues to grow players who want to succeed at the professional level in the United States and internationally.
In year one, what do you hope to accomplish that will allow you to say the year was a success?
As we look at year one for Bragg FC, the main goal is to begin building for the long term future. We are still working out the many different issues any team faces when they are brand new. We are building the team through tryouts and practices, working towards preparing ourselves financially, and building our home fan base. Obviously like any team, we want to win the league and do great things, but know that can be difficult as a team begins to build their chemistry. Overall, year one will be an accomplishment if we place well in the league, get our team affairs in order, and begin building a great relationship with businesses, members of the community, and the UPSL as a whole.
Since you guys are a team that's is primarily military based, what kinds of unique challenges and opportunities have you faced in getting everything off the ground and keeping it running?
The main challenge we face as a primarily active duty military team is the constant turnover of players. There are many talented players throughout the military community, but as a military member, we are on call at anytime to leave and go where the military sends us. As we build our team, we hope to keep the integrity of active duty members, but fully understand we need to open our ranks to civilians, military dependents, and other talented players in the community and surrounding areas. The other main challenge we face is the financial aspect. As active duty members, we do not have a major financier who is backing our team and program. We have to constantly fight to raise money and work towards locking in our team sponsors. This will continue to be our main challenge as we move forward and get this team running towards future championships.
How has the local community, including the military base, responded to the team as a whole with this recent move to the UPSL?
Currently, we are still working hard to get our team out to the community. We have been working diligently to lock in sponsors to assist our team through our initial financial obligations and hoping to build longterm partnerships with local businesses. We hope to build a great relationship with the senior military leadership at Fort Bragg, NC, and plan to invite the Post Commander and others to our first game in Fayetteville on March 25th. We are excited to bring this team to the local community, and hope that through out military affiliation, we can build a huge fan base in Fayetteville, Raeford, Spring Lake and many other surrounding areas.
If you could make the culture and style of Bragg FC like any another club anywhere in the world, what club would you model it after and why?
I am personally a huge Juventus fan, an Italian Professional Club team in the Serie A. The club's fan base is the largest at the national level and one of the largest worldwide. The Italian fans are like no other. They love their sport and take the sport of soccer seriously. They bring a passion to the game, and the players treat each other like family. They represent what it means to be a winner, winning thirty-three official league titles, twelve Coppa Italia titles and seven national Super Cups titles, two Intercontinental Cups, two European Champion Clubs' Cup and UEFA Champions Leagues, one European Cup Winners' Cup, a national record of three UEFA Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one UEFA Intertoto Cup. Bragg FC is a family, living values of hard work and dedication, and have a history of winning. We have won titles of our own, and now look to win Professional Titles within the UPSL, making our own legacy and history in US Soccer.
Favorite soccer players, one past, one present.
Gianluigi "Gigi" Buffon, who played as a goalkeeper for Serie A club Juventus. Present is Tim Howard, Goalkeeper, who plays for the US National Team, Colorado Rapids and formally Manchester United and Everton in the English Premier League.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to people reading this?
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, ESPN FC podcast, Fear and Loathing in La Liga by Sid Lowe
If you could meet one person from soccer history, who would it be?
I think it would be awesome to meet Goalkeeper Petr Čech, Arsenal and Chelsea
Where can people find out more about you and the team online?
For now Social Media is the best way. We are on Twitter, @braggfutbolclub and Facebook, @braggfootballclub, as well as Instagram.
We will soon have our website launched at www.braggfc.com and you can always check out information on the teams at www.upslsoccer.com
We also have an online store for all of our team apparel that people can visit: https://admiral-sports.com/shop/usa_en/catalog/category/view/id/130/?club=1656
What would you say to someone asking you why they should get out there and support their local non-league team, like Bragg FC?
Bragg FC has a great story behind it. The team is comprised of active duty, reserve, dependents and civilians. We were built as an Armed Forces team and founded in 2015 to play in post tournaments and Armed Forces Tournaments throughout the states. It was a dream for Jose, my Co-owner, and I to build something that could take players to the next level. Many join the military for whatever reason, and what we have found is a lot of our team has played at higher levels of competition. We live by a set of values as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, and show that during our games we play. Bragg FC is out to leave a legacy and build our youth programs. Our hope is to expand the Bragg FC name, leaving academies that young players can join and improve their skills, and have that chance to provide their families a brighter future!
Kyle, thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, please consider supporting us on Patreon by Clicking Here. Or you can click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. Make sure to spread the word by sharing these interviews, telling friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.
Read last weeks interview: NISA, ho! Joshua Austin of Rubber City FC