The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is proud to announce that Academica Soccer Club (Turlock, CA) has joined the league as an expansion team. The club will compete in the West Region’s Golden Gate Conference.
“We are proud to see our league continue to grow in the West,” NPSL Chairman Joe Barone commented. “California has always been known as a hotbed for great soccer and we are excited to have the NPSL coming to Turlock. We’re very confident that Academica will be a tremendous addition to the Golden Gate.”
Academica is run by a board of directors, some of whom were present when the club was founded over 40 years ago. The NPSL team will be led by head coach Sergio Sousa and Director of Public Relations Michael Rocha. Sousa has been with the club for over 15 years and is also an assistant coach for the men’s soccer program at UC Merced. Rocha is one of the Portuguese play-by-play commentators with the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Academica Soccer Club has always made it a point to play in a competitive league since its inception,” Rocha said. “The NPSL is one of the fastest growing leagues in the U.S. and no one can doubt its quality. We are excited about the growth of not just the league but of the sport throughout the country. We want to be a part of that. We want to be part of something special.”
The club was started in 1972 in Turlock, California. Portuguese immigrants from the Azores Islands created the Portuguese Cultural Center in Turlock in 1970 and started the team for the youth of the community. Since then, the club has become the most successful amateur club in area. Players from the club have gone on to compete at numerous colleges, both locally and throughout the country.
“We’re expecting to compete from day one,” Rocha continued. “We want to give our community something that it can rally around and provide a quality product that our fans can be proud of. We believe with the experience of playing in the NPSL and other national leagues that some of our players have, we will be a competitive team from the start.”
Academica joined the Central California Soccer League (CSSL) in 1977. The club has competed in the CCSL for over 30 years and won three championships during that span. The team then moved onto the NorCal Adult Soccer League in 2013. It reached the final of the league that season. The team reached the final again in 2016. The team entered in its first U.S. Open Cup tournament this year where it advanced to the second round of Open Qualifying. The team has also won numerous Portuguese club tournaments all over the state.
“We bring a storied tradition to the league,” Rocha commented. “Being a well-known club in the valley, we have always attracted top talent from the area. We are the San Joaquin Valley’s only NPSL team. We take pride in representing our area and I think you will see that on the pitch come game time.”
Home matches will be played at Academica Field.
“Academica Field is situated out in the rural area of Turlock, California,” Rocha concluded. “Surrounded by cattle and corn fields, our field embodies what the Central Valley is known for worldwide. We take pride in the quality of our natural grass pitch and have been upgrading our facilities in order to provide fans a unique stadium experience. It has seen games of all types, ranging from foreign club friendlies to US Open Cup matches. Members on our board built this field and we are proud to call it home for over 30 years.”
Academica also has a successful affiliation with Turlock Tornadoes SC and many of that club’s teams train and play at Academica facilities. Academica is also affiliated with the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Turlock.