COLUMBIA, Mo. — AFC Columbia has announced that it is joining the Midwest Premier League as its first regional league. The club will compete in the new South Conference of the league alongside Santa Fe Wanderers and Ajax St. Louis. The three clubs will join the league with members in both its Eastern and Western Conferences, and more clubs will have the opportunity to join the new conference.
“I’m excited to hear about the announcing of our league. It’s a big step for AFC Columbia and soccer in the city of Columbia, as it’s giving us a legitimate outlet to showcase the talents of our city’s players,” AFCC manager Kurtis Boardsen said. “Columbia’s youth programs are very well supported in their endeavors and I believe that, with the League making AFCC this much more official, that the city will begin to grow its support of us as well. Columbia an is amazing soccer city and this only adds to that fact. “
AFC Columbia is set to begin competition in the league in summer 2022, and will fill out the remainder of the schedule with NPSL, USL2 and UPSL teams and expects a competitive inaugural season.
“This news is the culmination of a lot of hard work from the all volunteer AFCC staff and the Midwest Premier League,” AFCC president Zach Fisher said. “We identified the league early on as the ideal spot for the club due to its highly engaged leadership, like-minded approach to sustainability and the high level of play on the field.”
The Midwest Premier League is affiliated with the National Independent Soccer Association, a professional league recognized as part of the third level of American professional soccer. Playing in the league will give players in and around Columbia the chance to get noticed and earn a chance to play at the highest level.
Playing in the MWPL also gives the club, should it qualify, the chance to compete in the U.S. Open Cup. The tournament, which is the third-oldest in the world of its kind, is a single elimination tournament that pits amateurs and professionals against each other in a similar fashion to England’s FA Cup. The winner of the U.S. Open Cup qualifies for the Concacaf Champions League, the North American equivalent to the UEFA Champions League.
“Columbia has a large soccer community and deserves a club to represent it regionally at the adult level,” Fisher said. “The MWPL has also shown already in its time as a league that it can elevate players to pro teams especially those in the NISA system and we hope that our club can help local players take that next step if that is their career goal.
“Today we take our first step in helping those players reach that ultimate objective.”
In order to grow the South Conference further ahead of the 2022 season, the MWPL expansion committee is extending the application deadline to Jan. 28 with an emphasis on finding and admitting clubs in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and surrounding areas.
“Growth of the league’s current footprint is not a direct goal of our member clubs,” MWPL commissioner Andy Hayes said. “However when we are approached by clubs outside our current area and they have interest in being a part of what we do, how we do it and the service that our league presents to its members, we are going to do what we can to be accepting of those clubs.”
AFC Columbia is in the process of scouting and adding players to its roster for the 2022 MWPL season. The club will hold open tryouts at a date to be determined. Interested players should fill out the link here.
“We are excited about the current tryout list with the amount of quality that has showed interest,” Fisher said. “The depth chart is expected to be filled with players with high level collegiate experience and a long list of those that have already played semi pro.”
AFC Columbia is a soccer club founded with the goal of bringing high-level soccer to the heart of Missouri. The club will compete in the 2022 Midwest Premier League season in its first year of regional competition. For more information, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or AFCC director of communications Anthony Kristensen at email@example.com.