PETOSKEY—Talented players can come from anywhere.
But in order to be the best, you’ve got to put in the training to get there and then put yourself in front of others at that same high level, with the same kind of goals.
That can be somewhat of a challenge around Northern Michigan for those pursuing greatness in athletics.
Many often travel well outside the area to compete on travel teams and train in programs focused on building athletic talent.
Kyle Lieberman, co-owner of the Petoskey Field House and director of Northern Michigan Elite Soccer, wants to change that and he believes his newly founded Northern Michigan Football Club can help open a lot of doors for those pursuing excellence in soccer.
“I’ve always had this passion for Northern Michigan athletes to expect the same opportunities as everybody else,” said Lieberman. “I want to eliminate any sort of notion that because we’re up here, we’re at some sort of a disadvantage. So what we’re trying to do now with this NMFC is create a platform that brings Northern Michigan athletes on par with the rest of the state. It gives us the same chance to compete with the best of them.”
While most of the training and development for the NMFC teams will take part at the Petoskey Field House, Lieberman wants it to be about all of Northern Michigan.
“It was important to identify it as a Northern Michigan organization, as opposed to something city specific,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to have any pre-disposition about you can only play if you’re from this town or that town.”
The plan for the NMFC is to get kids as young as five years old started training, then work groups all the way up to the high school level.
“The goal is to, by the time kids are nine years old, to create more meaningful travel opportunities if they’re ready for it,” said Lieberman. “My expectation is that if they’re going through our program, they’ll be ready for it.
“It’ll be a little more travel and it’ll be, for lack of a better word, very specifically trying to climb the soccer ladder for players. There’s a lot of programs around the state that we don’t currently tap into in Northern Michigan.There’s state cup tournaments, basically state championships, then regional and national leagues.Not every player will be ready to dedicate themselves to that level of soccer, but for the players that do want to do it, I want them to have the pathway.”
While there’s programs around Northern Michigan that offer play, such as the Petoskey Youth Soccer Association, which Lieberman himself is a former Club Director of, NMFC will be more about the current development of the player and offer a few differences.
The organization will be merit based, with players able to play beyond their age group to better develop their skills. If a 10 year old can play with the groups above their age level, they will.
“Our model is based on the individual player having maximum opportunity, rather than saying, ‘We’ve got to foster this six year old group to build a team,’” said Lieberman. “We want players to advance as far as their talent will take them. So if we’ve got a six year old ready to play with eight year old, we’re not going to say you’ve got to wait.”
Lieberman is also excited about the level of coaches his teams will be able to offer for his players.
“One thing we’re proud of is we’re delivering specialized staff to everything we do,” he said. “All of our programs are run by licensed and experienced coaches. People who have played the game at a high level, coached at a high level, not as much on the volunteer level.”
The Petoskey Field House is already currently offering a spring outdoor program, though will also now be offering registration for players from five years old to the high school level for the upcoming fall of 2022 and spring of 2023 sessions with the Northern Michigan Football Club.
Lieberman hopes teams fill up with interest in the coming weeks, with players looking to put themselves in another level of soccer training in Northern Michigan.
“Anyone who signs up for NMFC will have a certain standard that they can expect, from the way that they train the way they’re coached and the curriculum they’re offered,” he added. “We’re very excited about it. We think it’s going to be big for the game moving forward in Northern Michigan.”
Those interested in registering or finding out more about NMFC are encouraged to email: email@example.com. There will also be a pair of open houses at the Petoskey Feld House from 7-8 pm, Monday, April 25 and Tuesday, April 26.
Contact Sports Editor Drew Kochanny at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @DrewKochanny, and Instagram, @drewkochanny