Billy Goat FC's Journey and Life's Lessons
Thursday, July 24, 2014 Final Day of Group Play: Billy Goat FC 1-1 (MO) vs Alum Rock PAC Tigres 0-1-1 (Cal-N) at 12:00 PM EST.
View US Youth Soccer 2014 National Championships Scores/Schedules/Standings
The roots of Billy Goat FC can be found in a competitive U12 team that was part of a larger Kansas City area club, Futura FC. Coach Abdullah Parker took the team over in 2008; early results in local leagues and tournaments were mediocre at best. Undaunted by the first year results, he proposed the idea of an unaffiliated single team with local sponsorship: Billy Goat FC. This choice placed certain burdens on the coach, the players, and the parents. The odds were certainly against a single team--for reasons of economics, logistics, resources and time. To say that Billy Goat FC was an underdog is an understatement.
The team struggled to earn respect beginning with Division 3 assignments in Kansas City metro leagues. Success did not come easy, but with Coach Parker’s competitive drive and steady reassurance to parents and players alike, much hard work, and a constant reinforcement of the things that really matter--grades, character, respect, and discipline—other young men were drawn to the team. And, as the team improved, the expectations rose. Coach Parker realized that parents and players alike believed in him and in his message.
As U15s, Billy Goat FC ventured into the MRL where every other opponent was part of an established, well-known club. Billy Goat FC had a respectable finish in the middle of the grouping. Still, Coach Parker encouraged the boys to realize their potential and suggested they give MRL another try. There was no way he could have known that his star midfielder, Ray Saari, would be stricken with testicular cancer before that campaign. No longer was anyone’s focus on soccer. It was about the survival of one of their own. Abdullah rallied the boys through his regular texts and emails, encouraging them to support their fallen companion. He helped the boys understand and cope with the lessons of life.
When Ray overcame the chemo and loss of strength, he returned to the team in time for the MRL season. The team gelled at the right time and pulled off the unthinkable: an MRL D1 Championship. Next up: MRL Premier Division.
In 2012 Billy Goat FC won the MRL Premier Division on the last day of competition. Though State Cup champion honors had eluded them, the team qualified for Region II championships as the MRL1 representative. They did not advance beyond their group.
The team’s success drew the attention of other coaches and organizations. In mid 2012 the largest Kansas City metro club approached Billy Goat FC with the idea of affiliating. In a unanimous vote the players voted to remain independent.
In 2013, Billy Goat FC was a State Cup finalist for the third consecutive year and did not advance to Regionals.
Reconvened for its final club season, Billy Goat FC finally won State Cup in 2014 as U19s but the coach and players envisioned more. Now the team represents Region II as the U19 boy’s champion in Germantown, MD.
Over the last six years Bill Goat FC has witnessed changes in young men that most parents would not have thought possible; much of this is due to Coach Parker’s influence. The boys have survived the tragic loss of a teammate, cancer, numerous hospitalizations, financial hardships, divorce, etc. For all, Coach Parker has been like a father figure encouraging them to always make the right decisions. Coaches and referees often seek Coach Parker out after the game to comment favorably on not only the style of play he has taught, but on the sportsmanship displayed by his young men. Not once in all his time with Billy Goat FC have we seen him lose his temper or berate a referee for a bad call.
It is no wonder then that two Billy Goat players received All-American honors; one was Missouri’s Most Valuable player; several others were Missouri All State recipients, and one was Academic All State. Numerous other awards have been bestowed on Billy Goat FC players.
All Billy Goat FC players hail from the Kansas City metro area. Every player does or will play collegiate soccer. They attend or have enrolled in the following universities or colleges: Tulsa University, Presbyterian College, Southwest Baptist University, Rockhurst University, William Jewell College, and Marquette University.