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Tormenta FC partners with European clubs
Tormenta FC owner Darin Van Tassell, left, shakes hands with ASD Grottaferrata (Italy) president Claudia Furlani after the clubs signed a friendship agreement during Tormenta's visit to Europe earlier this month. - photo by Special to the Herald

    As if an inaugural season filled with success and popularity wasn't enough, South Georgia Tormenta FC is now making itself an international sensation.
    Now back in Statesboro after a trip to Europe, Tormenta owner and team president Darin Van Tassell announced the signing of three friendship agreements. FC Academy (Monte Compatri, Italy), ASD Grottaferrata Calcio (Grottaferrata, Italy) and KF Tirana (Tirana, Albania) will all be working with Tormenta FC to collaborate through players and team administration for the mutual benefit of the clubs.
    “We’re really excited for this partnership,” Van Tassell said. “We’re wanting to grow the brand of Tormenta FC and this step into the international side of things is going to be great for everyone involved.”
    Partnerships with these clubs and cities could pave the way for future international players to compete for Tormenta. Front office staff members of the clubs will also be linked to the friendship agreements as an exchange of staff members will give workers valuable insight to how the different clubs and cultures operate in their day-to-day functions.
    While the clubs involved in the agreements all have professional or semi-pro teams operating in their oldest division, there is also plenty of emphasis on youth soccer.
    As part of the agreement with their new partners, Tormenta’s U16 and 17 squads (formerly Storm Soccer Academy out of Savannah) will travel to Italy next summer. While there, the team will have a chance to play against the youth squads of some of the world’s most prestigious clubs.
    “There are going to be 16 teams in the tournament,” Van Tassell said. “We’ll be the only American team and the other 15 teams are going to be club names that a lot of soccer fans will instantly recognize. It’s going to be a great experience for the kids and a great opportunity to grow our club abroad.”
    Following the tournament, the team may also play some friendly matches in Albania before returning stateside for its normal schedule.
    Tormenta’s partnerships with international clubs are the latest step in what has been a phenomenal startup story.
    The franchise was only announced — and didn’t even have a formal name — a little over a year ago. A months-long buildup towards Tormenta’s inaugural season in the Premier Development League saw local businesses and organizations flocking to the team with support.
    Last summer brought about the team’s first season of competition and Tormenta notched a winning record — falling just short of the national playoffs - while recording wins against two of the highest-ranked teams in the country. While Tormenta excelled on the pitch, the team’s support swelled in the stands. Tormenta routinely crushed average PDL attendance numbers while VIP offerings and constant promotions kept the energy level high despite the hot and muggy summer nights that accompanied matches.
    “We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” Van Tassell said. “Heading into the (NCAA soccer tournament), we’ve been getting plenty of attention. There are schools calling us, asking about placing players, and these are schools that have a great tradition and usually don’t go out of their way to make calls to make sure someone is playing on a certain team.
    “We’re very excited for the next year of Tormenta, both on the field and with the new partnerships we’re participating in.”