When Marco Lascano first formed the Enterprise Select Soccer club in 2015, he had one goal in mind: to provide the opportunity for local children and young adults to play travel soccer at an affordable cost. Three years later, the organization has grown from one team of 11 kids to 11 teams with more than 200 players club-wide, and Lascano is still committed to his original goal.
“I once told a parent it wasn’t my intention for it to grow like this and he said ‘just because you didn’t intend for it to happen, doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to happen. Things happen for a reason,’” Lascano said. “Our goal has always been to provide competitive travel soccer and great training to all kids, without them having to pay all the fees typically associated with soccer clubs, and three years later our mission and philosophy has not changed. We do not charge registration fees, admin fees or program fees, our board of directors is not paid, our licensed coaches are not paid. We all volunteer our time and effort for the kids of Enterprise and the surrounding communities.”
Lascano said the idea for Enterprise Select Soccer was born out of dissatisfaction with the way most soccer clubs operate. Because many groups function on a “pay to play” model, the number of participants is limited due to the costs associated with membership and tournament fees. Lascano said this practice is harmful to both the organizations and the kids looking for a chance to play ball.
“Soccer clubs in Alabama and across this country charge too much money to join their clubs and then ask for more money from their members throughout the year. Unfortunately in this country we lose too many potentially good/great soccer players because they cannot afford to join these soccer clubs to get the training they need to develop,” Lascano said. “I wanted Enterprise Select Soccer to be different. I wanted it to be about developing and helping kids become better players. I did not want to be a pay to play organization. I wanted to give all kids that want to play soccer, a chance to train, develop and be part of a soccer club.”
Lascano’s vision was shared by a number of other area soccer enthusiasts, and many of the adults either left their organizations or joined Enterprise Select Soccer to become coaches for the growing program. Jorge Mazariegos, who coaches the club’s U19 boys team, said he migrated to ESS for more freedom to choose and coach his players.
“We heard about Marco having started the club, and we left our other club because of its 50 percent rule that affects all travel teams,” Mazariegos said. “We wanted to be able to have our own team where we could decide which players were on our team and they wouldn’t have to fight for their positions. We went to Marco and asked if we could join his club, and this is our third season with him.”
Jason Palfreeman, who coaches the U9, U10, and U11 teams, had a similar story.
“I used to be part of the Wiregrass Soccer Club, but we broke off because I had a difference of opinion, so I took my players and parents to Marco’s club,” Palfreeman said.
Diana Tibbetts, U11 girls team coach, said joining Enterprise Select Soccer has been a positive experience for her, her family, and her players.
“We’re military, and we moved here and had some friends whose sons played on the teams,” Tibbetts explained. “We were able to put together a girls team, and I got asked to be the coach. It’s been very rewarding and positive; we do all kinds of practices together, and there’s lots of involvement with parents and Marco.”
Enterprise Select Soccer has been as successful in competition as it has been in growth, according to Lascano. Though the club has a limited number of games in their season, they’ve managed to make a name for themselves in the competition circuit.
“In our short time as a club, our teams have played in 45 championship matches, winning 28 championships and 17 second place finishes,” Lascano said. “Our 12U, 13U and 19U teams are on track for state championships this season. Currently ten of our teams are ranked in the state of Alabama and five of those teams are ranked top ten in the state. We are proving and will continue to prove that our training method and philosophy are developing some great players and some great teams and we’re doing it the right way.”
With so much growth in such a short period of time, playing space is the biggest issue for Enterprise Select Soccer; Lascano and his coaches said the club’s primary goal now is to find more fields they can use for practice.
“I would like to see the club getting access to more fields form the city,” said Mazariegos. “That’s a big hindrance right now for us; the lights are terrible on our fields, and we have to share it, so we’d love to get access to other fields with decent lights and field conditions as far as grass goes.”
Lascano added that though the club has been unable to play on city fields, he has received help from Enterprise City Schools Superintendent Greg Faught, Richard Pipkin, and Ray Davidson of the Enterprise YMCA for which the club is immensely grateful.
“Right now the city hasn’t really helped us with field space, and it’s kind of unfortunate because we’re a non-profit and member of the Chamber of Commerce,” Lascano said. “But we’re extremely grateful to Faught and Pipkin and Davidson — if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have fields to train and grow as we have.”
Palfreeman added that one of his personal wishes would be to see Enterprise gain a recreational soccer complex in the future.
“I’d like to see some added support from the city in building a soccer complex. It really puts the kids at a disadvantage when they don’t have a field to play on. It would be great to get the support from the city for fields so we can continue to grow personally and as a club,” Palfreeman said. “They’re out there trying hard, training hard, and they’re really representing the city of Enterprise.”
Club register Stephanie Onorato said she is astonished at the growth Enterprise Select Soccer has seen and hopes the club will continue to bless others.
“It’s amazing. I feel like God blesses things that are meant to be, and for something to start off as simply as that and grow on its own… I feel like it’s a blessed thing,” Onorato said. “I believe, when you do good things for people to provide travel soccer for kids who wouldn’t be able to play normally… you get blessed when you bless others.”
Lascano said he hopes the club will continue to grow and the players will continue to develop as the seasons go on.
“It’s been amazing to see the kids develop; in a season or two, they’re playing at a high level. That’s our payment. We get such joy in seeing the development,” Lascano said.