Lets start simple. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Riverside Coras FC.
I’m Salvador, from the San Gabriel Valley in California, and I moved to Rialto in 2006 and I manage social media for Coras.
How did you first come to be a fan of soccer in particular, and then involved with Riverside?
Well it all started when I was about 4 when I started playing with the AYSO. As I played throughout my youth I loved the game as I was playing it. When I moved to Rialto, I played a lot less compared to the SGV.
Fast forward to last year, I was a Galaxy fan and made a fan club called IE galaxy. Then I see all the 'support local soccer' tweets and decided to find a local club near Rialto. Riverside caught my interest cause they were selling shares. So I called the president, he invited me to the first game last season and just gave me his phone and said “do some social media stuff” and now I’m here. And in the near future I’ll save enough money to buy a share of my local club!
That's pretty cool! What can you tell me about the history of Riverside Coras? What's the club's origin story?
So the team is based off the Mexican team Deportivo Coras de Tepic (third tier). Robert's dad and 4 uncles immigrated to California and formed the team in 1966 and officially joined the California Soccer League in 1969. Robert inherited the team and moved it to Riverside around 2012 to begin playing in the NPSL.
Riverside is a rather large city near Los Angeles. What's the community like there? What makes Riverside a good place to live and good place to have a soccer team?
The population is about 325K. It's a conservative city with a small town feel. A center for art and artists. It’s like Orange County without the beach. I personally don’t live in Riverside, but it’s one of the more exciting cities in the region if you want to do something. If you have read our article about pro players from the IE then you’ll understand why riverside is a good place for a soccer team.Got it.
Most people know of the team from it's time in the NPSL. When did the team join the NPSL, and how has the experience been thus far?
It joined the league in 2012/13. The experience from my point of view has been alright, we have a county rival which is cool, a new team coming to the conference next season so more competition which is fun for us and our players. I believe we have not won the conference yet, but our goal is definitely to get to the top and qualify for the US open cup
You've already mentioned the fact that you can buy a share of Coras at the beginning of the interview, so what can you tell us about the supporter owned model being utilized at the club? Why did it happen, and why should people buy into an amateur club?
Robert told me he always wanted the team to be community owned. No particular reason, he just wanted it that way. The rules to community ownership are you 1) must live within the region and 2) attend half of the home games to help set up for games.
Personally buying a share is a unique investment compared to other investments. 1) keeps owners on check by 2) allowing you have a say and vote in the product you’re watching and 3) have the community interest first. For me I want to be part of building a community rather than giving my money to a set product like the Galaxy. As I always say “Lower leagues teams are the same as the create a team option in EA sports games. You can make it whatever you want.”
What are some of the challenges the club faces in drawing the attention of the community, especially close to a market, Los Angeles, with so many professional options across a bunch of sports to watch?
It’s not easy for that exact reason. I always looked at it as “we will have more talent go through our system than fans in seats,” meaning our team will never be short of players, we have plenty who come but getting a fan base is challenging. Myself and our head writer, Steven, are coming up with plans to make the team appeal to the Riverside community.
Are you able to share any of those plans, or are they still under construction?
Under construction, but the goal is to relate more to the community and show them that this is a platform for them to express city culture.
A lot of teams talk about being a way for their city to express it's culture. What does that saying mean to you, personally, when you think about a soccer team expressing a cities culture?
It means to provide an outlet of city expression, the vibe of the citizens to come together in one place like a social club. The advantage is when we bring pro soccer to the city (soon!) we get bigger and as we move up the divisions, we get more exposure locally, regionally, nationally and hopefully internationally, (like qualifying to the CL) so people around the world can see who we are and maybe they can come see us in person to experience it.
Riverside is a city of art and music, that message must be spread and soccer is our method of doing so.
The amateur scene for US Soccer is changing rapidly. UPSL now gives teams a chance to play almost year round, NPSL teams are looking to start their own pro league, USL D3 and NISA are launching, and there are hundreds of local leagues to choose from nationwide. Where does Coras hope to see itself in this changing landscape five years from now?
Our time line isn’t clear, but NPSL Pro looks like a possibility. We wouldn’t look at NISA or USL simply for the cost. NPSL Pro looks more like a good fit, but no promises on when it will happen.
Is that because of the flexibility it will provide in not requiring owners to have an arbitrary amount of wealth?
Yes. Our owner isn’t a millionaire. If we had more money then we could do a lot more. The only thing we can do is be great on sporting merit. We want to be good on the field and to be good off the field.
So joining someone like NPSL Pro is better for you guys because it's a league with more opportunity for clubs like Coras who may not have big money but have just enough?
Yes. I mean we are in the NPSL already so yes.
I'm interested in something you mentioned earlier, about Riverside being an artistic community. When you think of Coras allowing the city to show that side of itself to the world, what does that look like to you? Do you think tifo, match posters, or something else entirely?
To me tifos is definitely one thing that will happen. One idea I have is to have a supporters group and the top guy has a medium size mission bell that he rings and the fans chant or sing after each ring. Or after a goal the bell rings. I mean, personally I could start that but we need more fans and another social media guy to take my place to get it started.
So I envision tifos, songs, mission bells, and something with oranges. (Riverside has a orange grove history)
First, what is a mission bell? Second, I had no idea about the oranges. Maybe toss a bunch on the pitch after a win, like what Detroit fans do with the octopus in hockey?
This is the riverside mission bell. Our crest has it as well. And yes, that sounds like a good idea. The history behind the bell goes to the history of the Mission Inn Hotel in downtown where a local business man built a hotel full of cultural wonders back in the early 1900s.
So this would have to be dragged into the stadium on some type of contraption, rather than carried by hand I take it?
Not the actual mission bell but like a small replica of it, the size should be hand held for carrying around.
Where do you hope to see Coras five years from now?
Some goals I like to see achieved are: •A deep US Open Cup run •NPSL playoff run •live-streaming games • merchandise for sale.
What's the biggest obstacle right now when it comes to live streaming games?
We want to try a mycujoo outlet. I bought a tripod so I plan on trying it out and seeing how it goes. We plan on doing away games. Not many obstacles in our way, we are ready to try and see how it goes.
MyCujoo is a solid platform for live streaming. I'm curious what your opinion will be on this next question. Do you feel that the large off season in NPSL causes the clubs momentum to stall? The club isn't playing more than it is, and I'm curious how you feel that long break affects the club.
We tried to be busy this off season by playing the Riverside County Cup but if you have read our article we couldn’t play it this year. We avoid other methods like other NPSL clubs where they have a second team in the UPSL. I don't know why but our president is against it. Personally I think we need to be on the field year round and keep our players in condition.
So you would definitely consider the short season to be detrimental to the club?
Yes. It helps a little that we will get two more games with the addition of LAUFC but our model is to make money from our product on the field and if we get more games we make more money.
Are there any clubs in your conference that you would consider to be your main rivals?
How close are they to Riverside?
I’d say a 2 hour drive.
How far is everyone else?
Check that Temecula is an hour away or 1 hr 20 mins. FC Arizona is like a day trip. Golden State is more or less an hour. Oxnard is 2 hours depending on traffic. San Diego is 2 hours +. I think the new LAUFC will play in downtown LA so that could be 1 hourr + drive. OCFC is like around a hour.
I’d say from experience golden state was the closest distance I’ve went for a away game.
So travel is certainly manageable, that's good. What can people expect from Coras this off season as we look towards next season? Obviously an increased presence on social media is one thing.
Besides social media we don’t have much going on. Riverside County Cup was the big thing but for social media we just follow up with College soccer, tryouts November/December, thinking about doing a live show on Instagram.
But tomorrow myself, our head writer and the owners will met to have a discussion, don’t know many details about it.
Very nice. Let's start wrapping this up with some short questions. What's your favorite team to watch for fun, other than Coras, obviously.
Since I started the fantasy league I’ve been liking the major European teams like United, PSG, Bayern Man City, and Barcelona.
Of course Chivas is the family team so that’s unconditional love I give to them, and if possible I watch Coras de Nayarit if they stream their games.
Favorite players: one past, one present.
Ronaldinho and Messi.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you enjoy and would recommend to the people reading this?
The Alex Ferguson book is good to read, might look into a Brian Clough book soon. My recommendation is have passion for the sport and the knowledge will follow.
Where can people find out more about you and the team online?
My personal Twitter is @sal84447520
We have a Word Press with articles about the team. (official website coming soon) And of course we're on Twitter @RiversideCoraFC.
Closing question: What would you say to someone asking you why they should get out there and support their local non-league team, like Riverside Coras?
I’d say support your local team because it’s a unique platform to express yourself, your community and have a opportunity to be creative like the create a team feature in EA sports. The team that’s closest to your home can feel like home and you have the chance to put your town on the National and hopefully international map in the future (if pro/rel happens and is done correctly within our life time). It take one person to make a change and it takes a village to make that change into a reality.