"It's allowed me to focus on my career and improve other areas of my life. I'm a better man because of it. "
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Hello again AP readers, today we are heading back to the BDSL! The third division of the BDSL, to be exact. There are some surprises in this interview, as Jonathan Molik is the youngest owner in non league soccer in the states. I won't give you his age yet, you'll have to read the interview to discover that truth. Check it out.
Tell readers a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with Erie County FC.
I'm Jonathan Molik, I'm 19 years old. I'm from a town south of Buffalo, NY. I'm the founder, owner, manager, and captain of Erie County FC.
How did you come to be a fan of soccer?
Like every other kid in America I played when I was young and was relatively good or at least that's what I was told. From there I played more and more and started watching it on TV. What did it for me was Wayne Rooney and United and really began idolizing that United team of 2010-2011. Then it just grew and grew as I got more involved
What's the 'origin story' behind Erie County FC? Basically, how'd come into being?
Well the original idea came for it when I was about 8 years old. My mates and I use to play soccer in my backyard and we were always really competitive so I thought it'd be fun to create teams, logos, stadiums, etc. So my team was Erie County FC. After that I used the name for my FIFA Ultimate Team and that was about it and when my mates and I wanted to get back into playing football they said I should take the reigns and I wanted to name us Erie County FC. The real reason we started it though was to play together again. My career got cut short my junior year in high school after tearing my hip flexor twice and a lot of my other teammates are 25+ and they haven't played in years. So a lot of fun behind and for me the opening to a lot of opportunities.
At 19, you are the youngest soccer club owner/manager I've ever talked to. Are there any challenges you've encountered that you can look at and say 'that's because of my age?'
I would definitely say not being able to go to some events and bars to celebrate.
Alright. What league does the team currently compete in?
Buffalo District Soccer League. One of 14 Elite Amateur adult soccer leagues in the country.
How is the level of play in the BDSL?
Well we're in the third division so it's unpredictable. You get teams composed of guys fresh outta college and in shape who are really good and you get some teams of guys in their thirties who maybe aren't in the best shape.
So it's a little more of a mixed bag at the bottom of the BDSL pyramid?
Yes very much so. There are five divisions and the lowest is unpredictable. It's a healthy competition for sure.
That's good.Do you have any rivals at this level, or is it too soon for something like that?
When we first joined Twitter we thought it was a good idea to start a war and now FC Aftershock and us have quite a rivalry. We play each other for the first time in two weeks.
Nothing like using Social Media to stir the put. I'm curious though, why the name Erie County?
Where I'm from, Buffalo, is located in Erie County.
Makes sense. It sets you apart from a lot of the other BDSL teams. A little more traditional sounding. What were a couple of the challenges you encountered in getting the team off the ground?
Definitely funding. Between league fees, cup fees, player insurance, jerseys, equipment. I got a few sponsors but soccer isn't huge in Buffalo.
Sponsorship is something I like hearing about. What are a couple of things you've found don't work in attracting in sponsors, and some that do?
Approaching mom and pop places and businesses close to the family are a gimme. Chains and corporations may offer more but a lot harder and more involved.
Do you think getting the team a little more established will help with getting to larger sponsors?
Honestly I think sponsors could care less about how successful or established domestically I am. I've got a few ideas in line that I think will be more beneficial to Sponsors but you guys will have to wait to hear what those are.
Understood. This is going to be a big question. Why does Erie County FC exist? What's the teams purpose, I guess you could say.
So I've always been a Soccer nerd and of course my dream was to play professional and when it finally installs into your head you aren't going to make it especially for my after getting injured I wanted to always be involved and to run my own club and to see people wearing my logo places and seeing people talk about us and the doors it opens is truly unbelievable. I also love being able to play with some of my best friends in the entire world. Truly blessed God put me into the place I am today
Would you say that the injury has actually been more of a benefit than a boon?
Oh absolutely. It's allowed me to focus on my career and improve other areas of my life. I'm a better man because of it. I feel as though unless you've already made it then it's a positive.
That's some really good perspective. Let's do a few goal questions. What is the goal for Erie County this season?
Well we can't get relegated, so playoffs.
What is the goal for three years from now?
Hopefully at least be one division up from where we are. Would like to have games broadcast-ed and from there who knows.
What is the goal for five years from now, or is it too soon to be thinking that far ahead?
To have the motivation to continue. I'm good at starting projects and finishing them out and handing them over. I want this to be different.
So Erie County is something you want to be involved for the long haul?
Absolutely. Even if my playing days end I wanna be involved until my death day.
What do you think it would take for Erie County to be around that long? I've interviewed some other BDSL teams, such as Yemen Elite, and they have their own field and clubhouse to go along with having been operating for a long time. Is that something Erie County would need to gain that longevity, or something else?
I think success unfortunately is going to be key in keeping people around and finding the right people. Talks of our own field have been started and a clubhouse/pub would be awesome too. I think those are very important.
Your ready for some shorter, closing questions to wrap this up?
Absolutely, lay them on me
What's your favorite team and or league to watch for fun?
FC Buffalo and Philadelphia Union both have an equal place in my heart but the MLS and international football is my favorite to watch.
Favorite players. One past, one present.
Past would have to be Paul Scholes or Andre Shevchenko. Ya know, people say I play like Paul Scholes. Current would probably have to be Christian Pulisic and Wayne Rooney.
Do you have any books or podcasts, soccer related or otherwise, that you would recommend to readers?
Yellow Card Podcast is great for anyone who wants to learn more about MLS and the other levels of soccer in the United States.
You get to meet one person from soccer history. Who is it?
Eusebio and ask him what it was like to play for the old Buffalo Stallions, the professional indoor soccer team Buffalo had in the 70's.
Nice choice. Where can people find out more about yourself and Erie County?
Can find the team on Twitter @ErieCountyFC and follow me on Twitter @JonathanMolik
Closing question. What would you say to someone asking you why they should support their local team, like Erie County FC?
It's communal. Yeah the big teams are more attractive and more stuff around it and things to watch and do but you feel so distant. Local teams will go grab a drink with you after the game and everyone in the club is local. It's a good vibe.
Thank you again for your time Jonathan, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the weekly content coming out on AP you can Follow AP on Twitter, or Like AP on Facebook. And if you want make sure you never miss an interview, and want to read articles before everyone else, click here and sign up for the Newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road.
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