Chasing Bigger Goals
After a bump in the road during his soccer playing career, 29-year-old Darnell Olivere decided he wasn’t just going to settle, he was going to create a soccer club he and the local up-and-coming players in New York City deserved.
“After a very horrible Vaughn College soccer experience in fall '18, we as players knew what needed to change to be successful as a team. We were begging the school for certain things that just wasn't happening. After my college season ended in 8-0 L, I was pushing the athletic dept for a spring season to no avail. I said to myself, ‘Why should I wait for the school to do something for me? I'll just do it myself,’" he says.
Before founding the upstart Astoria Knights FC, the Queens native played collegiate soccer at Elmhurst (N.Y.)'s Vaughn College (USCAA), and the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton varsity team, in addition to trialing with the Rochester Rhinos (MASL) club.
On October 30th, 2018, Olivere and his team decided to start a team and just 90-days-later, the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) welcomed the Astoria Knights FC as a new member to their league.
The UPSL is the largest professional development league in the United States boasting about 300+ teams. The league requires yearly dues of $4500 per team, so starting the club wasn’t exorbitantly expensive for Olivere, but he has sacrificed to keep the club afloat during its inaugural season.
“The toughest obstacle for any team is money. Everyone in New York is concerned about how they spend their money down to the last penny. I decided to take on a second job as a quality assurance inspector to cover team expenses,” says Olivere. “I used all of my weekly checks to cover the team’s initial expenses, then we did a raffle, a donation sheet [to help]. Really it still financially falls on my personal finances, but I can't say I regret it.”
Playing in the Northeast Conference’s Patriot Division, the Knights are competing at a high level early on, with an impressive record of 4-0-2. Of course, Olivere would prefer that the team was undefeated. However, he firmly believes that they have what it takes to win the spring season.
Although the Knights are still a baby in the league, Olivere has high expectations for the club. In 5 years, he and his team plan to break ground on a sports complex, in addition to playing in the USL Championship. Olivere wants to make the Knights FC a global brand and he isn’t afraid to let that be known.
“I'm not limiting the organization or the players. We'll continue to have a family mentality and help everyone in our organization achieve their dreams, staff and players alike.”