Kicking Into High Gear

In this country, for many years, soccer struggled to compete with the traditional sports of football, baseball and basketball when it came to stirring the passion of fans or, for that matter, even drawing more than a passing interest. People would sit up and take notice when the World Cup and Olympics came around, only to return to their staple of familiar athletic contests.


The proliferation of youth soccer teams has led to the United States becoming a tough challenger on the world stage and, in the case of the women's national team, winning the most recent
World Cup.


Savannah, Statesboro and the surrounding area are prime assist players in the continuing development of a feeder system that keeps Americans formidable in international competition and perhaps one day bring the ultimate prize of a World Cup men's title. Further representative of the soccer boom in the area is the arrival of Tormenta FC, a player development league professional team in Statesboro. 


Ben Freakley, who coached 13 years of college soccer as well as ODP and youth leagues, is serving as general manager of Tormenta FC, which will play 14 games, starting May 13, with home contests at Georgia Southern's Eagle Field. The team will be coached by Borja Perez, who was selected from a list of 40 potential coaches from around the world.


Tryouts were held in January, and Freakley says he has an excellent group of 25 young men representing 17 universities. The team's motto, pros start here," is evident in their style of play.


"My job is to put an electric style of soccer on the field that people in the Lowcountry will be thrilled to watch," he says. "Tormenta FC makes sense. The Van Tassel family (co-owner Darin Van Tassel) and (co-owner) Jeremy Aven know that soccer in the Lowcountry is growing and that a PDL (Player Development League) team will enable developmental sports tourism opportunities. Partnering with Georgia Southern has been a genius move, as they have welcomed Tormenta FC and been gracious with their support.”


For more information about soccer in the Lowcountry, pick up the latest copy of South magazine. Check out Tormenta FC at