Thursday, February 2, 2017

Enough is Enough

My first post to this blog was back in November of 2007. The last time I posted was June of 2011. I’ve been slacking.

At that time I was enjoying the fact that Miami FC had rebranded as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and after so long I could go to Lockhart, like I did when I was 9-years old, and watch my favorite team play. I did nothing to make that happen. And now, as the team is on the verge of possibly collapsing into oblivion, I come back to this blog with renewed purpose.

I’ve had two children since I last posted and perhaps that is why I am so angry at myself. Why am I not involved? Just last year the founder of Foursquare created a team for the NPSL solely on the premise of “if you don’t see something you like, make it yourself.” It was a rather profound discovery and I recommend you follow the Kingston Stockade journey because it is nothing but pleasurable.

I come from a soccer-crazed family, but I don’t live a soccer-crazed life. In fact I’m far removed from it. Why that is I do not know, but I want it to change. And it starts here. I will have goals. I will state dreams. I will chart my successes and failures and hopefully have your support and help along the way.

Goal Number 1: A Pro Soccer Team.

To make things clear I want a professional soccer team in my backyard. In my hometown. For me that area stretches as far north as Jupiter and as far south as Hollywood. Miami is just too far removed. And as much as the international allure of Miami is, it is not South Florida. Also, when MLS had a team named Miami, they played in Fort Lauderdale. Just saying.

So what can I do to have a pro soccer team here? There are flashes of course and later on this blog I will reminisce about failed ventures such as the Boca Raton Sabres, Coral Springs Kicks, and Fort Lauderdale Sun.

If it were up to me, and for this blog, since it is only me at the moment, my focus will be to devise a plan on how a team called the Fort Lauderdale Strikers can play professional soccer again.

If you stop reading here fine. I’ve made my point. From here on I will go into detail about why the Strikers. As I said before I grew up here, and my only physical contact with pro soccer was the Strikers of the late 80s and early 90s. I went to their games, I was a ball kid, I went to the Thomas Rongen Soccer Academy (run of course by Striker players) and when I got to play at Lockhart (which I had a few occasions - middle school county championship, high school all-star game, scrimmage against the Fusion), I felt jitters.

I also said I was soccer-crazed. When I meet people today and they ask me who is your favorite team, I warn them that they are in for a long conversation. For when you don’t have a stable league and teams come and go and the best quality stuff comes overseas its hard to gather. I haven’t been able to follow a singular MLS team since its inception. At first I flocked towards the teams that were adidas sponsored (Columbus, KC and DC) but now the whole league is adidas so I can’t follow that formula. Abroad I have teams in every country because as an American you never know where one will end up. My parents are from Argentina, so if a team had an American or an Argentinean, I liked them. Again, that formula lasted only so long so over time I’ve made allegiances. In England, I like Tottenham. In France, Marseille. In Italy, Fiorentina. In Japan, Yokohama F. Marinos. In Argentina, Racing Club (my Dad’s team). I will go in depth on this subject in a future blog for sure. But if you like those teams, let’s talk.

Anyway, the Strikers will always be my home. And one day they will return to the playing field in a professional capacity.

I want to shift gears a bit and talk about myself. I think it is important that you know who I am. I wrote this blog behind a veil of secrecy for no reason what so ever. So here it goes. My name is Diego Meeroff. I was born in Oklahoma City in 1980 and moved to Charleston, SC and Nashville, TN before my family settled in Coral Springs and then Parkland where they are today. My parents are from Argentina and we were raised that soccer was the only sport worth participating in. If you know the Meeroff family I’m pretty sure it is not because that my father is a crack gastroenterologist. It’s because my dad is a soccer nut. If you take anything away from your experience with him, I hope that it becomes obvious that he is passionate about this sport and passionate about it succeeding in this country. He might have insulted you at some point or probably given you a red card. That’s just my dad.

Me however, I just wanted to play. I started playing in recreational leagues in Nashville and Coral Springs, but when I turned 6 I tried out and made the U-9 team for USA (United Soccer Association) in Sunrise. They folded and I joined the Plantation Eagles. When my parents moved to Parkland the Plantation commute became to much and I started playing for Team Boca in Boca Raton. After a few years, and by now I was 15. Few teams remained in this area. Basically in my age group there was one team from Miami and one team from Coral Springs. My dad, the passionate figure that he is, had fundamental differences with the Coral Springs administration. So my family started their own club, Lauderdale Soccer Club. We were rag tag, but in our 3 years of existence we made the State Cup final twice (losing to Miami Strike Force both times).

The second final we lost was on the day of my high school graduation. I scored our team’s only goal in the 2-1 loss and I had to suffer the drive home from Cocoa Beach to walk the stage and receive my diploma. A very weird day for me for sure. I played high school soccer at Stoneman Douglas. It was pretty uneventful aside from our district championship game where we scored 3 goals in the last 7 minutes to beat Coral Springs 3-2. I went on to FAU to play soccer. The summer before my freshman year I was diagnosed with epilepsy. And a year later I wrecked my knee playing in a State Cup game.

At that point I threw my dream of playing pro soccer out the window and found a new love in music. I learned to play guitar, found some other crazy kids and started an indie band. It was such a great experience and opened me up to a whole new world. I still followed the game, but I was not so immersed. The years since have really been a blur. My professional career in marketing actually began at Walt Disney World. After one year with the mouse, I came home and worked at an ad agency, a real estate office and a travel agency. I’m now the Director of Marketing for Florida Atlantic University. I’m very passionate about FAU and we’ve come along way, and we will go a lot further.

I also got married, and I have 2 beautiful children. My 5-year has yet to touch a soccer field. I’ve made attempts, including building a mini field in our backyard for him. I’m not pushing him. At least not until he’s 7.

So that’s me in a nutshell. I’m going to commit to this blog. Once a week, just say want I need to say. I will also reach out to our soccer community. We may be dysfunctional but we are all passionate. We just need to combine that passion and bring a team back to the fold.

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