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Tormenta meets with reps for new pro league
TormentaFC Lettering Color large

When South Georgia Tormenta FC was created over two years ago, the franchise stated from its first day of operations that it intended to grow and thrive.

At the beginning of Tormenta’s season in May, the club announced its intentions to build its own stadium and also look at the possibility of moving from its current status as an amateur league mainly populated by current collegiate players to a professional club.

With the United Soccer League - currently the governing organization of the United States’ second-tier league of professional soccer, as well as the Premier Development League in which Tormenta has been playing - announcing plans to add a third tier of pro soccer beginning in 2019, Tormenta is looking to make the leap.

“We are always looking to do what’s best for our team and for our community,” team president Darin Van Tassell said. “We always want to win and we want to do that at a high level. (Becoming a professional team) is an opportunity that we think we can take. With the support we’ve seen from our fans, we feel like we can continue to compete and offer our players and fans a great experience with us.”

Tormenta has shown the desire to grow, and the USL has taken notice.

As the USL prepares to add a new league, it has sent an expansion committee to prospective clubs in order to get a better gauge on which clubs it will select to open up play in the third tier.

That committee made its way to Statesboro last month and saw plenty of positives that will keep the club in consideration as the new league continues to determine exactly what the newest brand of professional American soccer will look like.

“We’re looking for the same three things everywhere we go - city, stadium and ownership,” said vice president of the new ‘D3’ league Steven Short. “(In Statesboro), we see a great ownership group that is committed to growing the team. The city has shown a lot of support (for Tormenta) and has a great track record as a place that supports its teams. There’s the possibility of a new stadium here as well, so that’s also a benefit.”

Tormenta definitely was bold in stating its intentions before it even had a team to compete with, but it has backed up its words every step of the way.

While falling just short of the postseason in each of its two seasons, Tormenta FC has a winning record and has captured the attention of just about everyone in the Premier Development League. Tormenta took home the ‘Best New Franchise’ award last season and was once again one of the PDL’s top attendance-getters in the 2017 season.

The ambition hasn’t stopped with the on-field product, as the club’s proposed stadium is designed with the intent of hosting notable events and catering to the level of a professional establishment. The current stadium plans call not only for a top-of-the-line field and team facility, but also for retail availability and fan amenities that will sell the stadium and club as a must-see destination for any fan of opposing teams.

“We want it to be a natural fit,” Short said. “We aren’t trying to force things, and we don’t just want to try and place teams in cities where there are already good (soccer) markets. New cities mean new fans. Tormenta has done a good job of growing and the ownership group here has been great friends to the league.”

The numbers and financials will always be large factors in the league’s decision on who to include in its new professional venture, but there is also consideration given to clubs that are laying groundwork to ensure future growth on top of what is already being delivered.

In addition to absorbing the former STORM Soccer Academy as part of the franchise umbrella, Tormenta has also created the Ibis Foundation, which has a singular goal of providing resources to youth soccer endeavors in order to grow the game.

“One of our main focuses is to see how a club is embraced,” Short said. “When you look at things like the Ibis Foundation, you can see that (Tormenta) is a club that has already set up roots in its community and has people committed to our goals.”