TOCA Football steps up its game in Dallas-Fort Worth with new indoor training locations

Whether you call it soccer or football, the sport’s roots are strong in Dallas and tech-enabled TOCA Football wants a bigger part of the game.

“Dallas has a rich history of soccer and a big soccer market,” TOCA performance division president Hammond Moore said. “It’s the perfect area for us to be.”

Creating both a proprietary tech-enabled soccer training program and a social “eatertainment” experience, the company hopes to capitalize on the sport’s growth in Dallas and across the US with $105 million in total funding.

TOCA opened its first Dallas-Fort Worth location, an indoor soccer center in Mansfield, last year, and announced the 2023 arrival of TOCA Social, a new food, drink and tech-soccer fusion slated to open in the Design District in February.

Now, it’s adding tech-powered indoor training facilities in Allen, Carrollton, Keller and The Colony through a partnership with Blue Sky Sports Center. The 39,000- to 55,000-square-foot centers will offer league play, technology-enabled soccer training and new TOCA Strikers classes for kids from 18 months to 7 years old.

TOCA now operates 25 locations across the country, including the four new D-FW locations and recent acquisitions in the Midwest, making it the largest indoor soccer operator in North America.

The company looks at several metrics when choosing new facility locations: the number of kids playing soccer, the level of soccer fandom and community engagement. D-FW is a sweet spot for all three.

“It doesn’t take much to figure out there are tons of soccer players in the Dallas market,” Moore said.

This indoor TOCA facility in California is equipped with the company’s training technology.(Hana Asano / TOCA Football)

What makes TOCA training different?

Founded by two-time US World Cup and former MLS and Premier League midfielder Eddie Lewis, TOCA aims to take soccer training to the next level with technology designed to provide feedback and maximize touches on the ball.

The four new training centers will soon be equipped with TOCA’s Touch Trainer, an innovation created to give players more than 300 repetitions per session.

“That’s almost more reps than some kids get in an entire season,” Moore said.

The facilities will also feature smart goals and smart targets that track data on ball speed, height, player decision making and more.

Technology rollout depends on each location’s needs, but Moore said the process typically takes four to six months.

“Our goal is to share the amazing technology we’ve created with the world and with the Dallas community as fast as possible, but we also want to be really sensitive to the people,” he said. “The most important thing is that they trust us, and the community trusts us before the technology comes.”

How has the soccer market grown in D-FW?

Further accelerating the soccer market boom, FC Dallas is overhauling its fan experience and building a pipeline to the US men’s national team.

“We’ve seen soccer grow across the US, and we really give a lot of credit to the MLS,” Moore said. “They’ve really done a remarkable job.”

Since 2005, FC Dallas Youth has grown from less than 50 teams to more than 225, in addition to 11 affiliate clubs outside the D-FW metro area. FC Dallas Youth vice president Chris Hayden credits the growth of youth soccer to D-FW’s soccer history, weather conditions that allow for yearlong play, local success on a national level and program improvements.

“The youth soccer market is pretty robust here in Dallas, and of course, we have a connection with the MLS team, so there’s a pathway to the team,” he said. “It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Soccer has always been big here, and it’s going to be big in the future.”

FC Dallas Youth teams now train at 11 facilities, one of which will soon feature TOCA technology.

Hayden had a chance to see the technology first-hand during a demo for some of the club’s Development Academy players and future pros.

“I like it,” he said. “It’s not going to be the only thing we do, but it’s one tool we can use to develop technique for our players.”

Grassroots local leagues have also seen jumps in participation over the last decade.

Nonprofit Dallas Youth Sports started a kids soccer league in 2010 with just 110 players. Despite COVID-19 pandemic constraints in recent years, Dallas Youth Sports is now close to its 2019 peak of 2,500 kids playing soccer.

“It’s been more of a 15-year run where soccer has grown,” Dallas Youth Sports executive director JR Huerta said. “Soccer’s always been really big in Dallas, but now we are really growing a lot of leagues.”

Soccer is in for more of a bull market now that North Texas has been selected as a 2025 World Cup match host. The FIFA match, or matches, will inject about $400 million into the D-FW economy and encourage an even stronger soccer culture. How many games will take place and which teams will play in the AT&T Stadium have yet to be announced. FC Dallas owner Dan Hunt is crossing his fingers for the US or Mexico, which both have strong fan bases in North Texas.

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