Late in June, South Georgia Tormenta FC officially released tentative plans for a new, soccer-specific stadium to be build on what is currently the driving range at Hackers. Along with the released plans and artist’s renderings came the announcement that the club is looking at a move up to the professional ranks when the United Soccer League begins its ‘D3’ league in 2019.
Tormenta has shown at every corner that the willingness and motivation is present to quickly build the team into a winner at high levels. Now, the club is reaching out to its supporters to show that the enthusiasm and commitment to improvement is something that everyone can get behind.
The club is currently seeking out a goal of 10,000 ‘votes’ on its website to show a community-wide interest and backing for the future of both Tormenta and increased soccer presence in Statesboro.
“The mission of this is to work on the macro side of stadium funding,” team president Darin Van Tassell said. “We want to hear from fans on whether this is a project they will support. Instead of just a petition, we’re looking for people to cast a vote with money behind it.”
Fans can log on to the team website and follow a link that will ask them to cast a $10 ‘vote’. People may vote as many times as they’d like and there is currently no deadline for votes and contributions to be cast.
Many different causes have taken the approach of asking for small amounts of money here and there, but Tormenta FC is working on a different and unique angle with its sales pitch. While the overall hope is that the campaign will show the support necessary to move ahead with new stadium plans, the money contributed via voting isn’t going directly into a stadium fund.
Instead, the money will go to the Ibis Foundation - the philanthropic organization linked to Tormenta that seeks to provide opportunities to teach and grow the game of soccer in and around Tormenta’s sphere of influence.
“Voting or donating to this cause will show what opportunities there are to do more with the game in our area,” Ibis Foundation head David Ball Sr. said. “This is what allows us to put on camps and help youth teams organize and begin playing.”
With plans to privately fund any potential stadium, Tormenta sees votes for their cause as a sort of grassroots growth initiative that shows the potential fan base and how it might work to support a larger club endeavor.
“We’ve done some traditional things,” Van Tassell said. “You get information from exploratory studies and feasability studies. But this shows us a new side of where we can build our franchise. With this voting, we will get feedback on an individual basis about their support for Tormenta.”
Another unique quirk in the process is that the money given for each ‘vote’ is much more of an investment than a donation.
In addition to the money going towards already-existing programs and projects instead of accounting for a small bit of conrete or steel in a future stadium, each vote can also be used as an advance payment towards the support of the 2018 version of Tormenta.
Any fans who are already season ticket holders - or who plan to be next season - can attach their name to their vote. All money given through the voting process will be applied toward the cost of that person’s 2018 season ticket purchases. In effect, each $10 ‘vote’ works twice as hard for the vote-giver as the money works toward the goals of the Ibis Foundation while also serving as a down payment for Tormenta tickets.
“We’re working hard as a front office to do some of the big things in terms of building a stadium,” Van Tassell said. “It’s not about building everything with money from these votes. The votes just go to show the community support we have for our team and for our sport.”
The voting outreach was first announced publicly during Tormenta’s final regular season game in July. That single public request from the team has already produced solid support from the current fan base and season ticket holders. Tormenta hopes that an offseason filled with franchise updates and continued aspirations for bigger and better things in the near future will keep the votes rolling in.
To cast a vote, and for more information on the voting initiative, prospective donors can visit tormentafc.com
Some of the best amatuer soccer in the country will make its way to Erk Russell Athletic Park this weekend as Statesboro plays host to the Premier Development League’s Eastern Conference playoffs on Saturday and Sunday.
The conference played host to 25 total teams - split between the Northeast, Mid Atlantic and South Atlantic divisions — which played their regular seasons from May through the early weeks of June. On Saturday, the Long Island Roughriders will take on the Myrtle Beach Mutiny at 6 p.m., with the Charlotte Eagles and Seacoast United Phantoms scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. The winners of those games will meet Sunday at 8 p.m. with the winner clinching the Eastern Conference championship and a berth into the PDL’s national semifinals.
The tournament’s host franchise, South Georgia Tormenta FC, finished a few points out of playoff contention, but turned in another solid season and will now try to put its best foot forward as it welcomes in the conference tournament contenders.
“We play in a tough division with a lot of very good teams,” Tormenta coach John Miglarese said following the team’s season finale. “You see Myrtle Beach (in the playoffs) who I thought was the best team we played all season and we tied them twice. We would have liked to keep the season going, but overall we were pleased with what we were able to accomplish against this competition.”
The team may have fallen just short of the postseason, but it’s a credit to the Tormenta organization as a whole that the PDL saw fit to bring the playoffs to Statesboro anyways.
Tormenta has made plenty of waves with the national offices in its two years of existence. The club was named the PDL’s ‘Best New Franchise’ last winter and has quickly grown into the type of organization that the league wants all of its clubs to emulate.
“Tormenta is already one of our top 10 clubs in terms of the resources and professionalism that goes into running their club,” PDL director Todd Eason said. “The effort that they put into their game day atmosphere and the support they’ve drawn is what we’re always looking for.”
The hometown club has also benefitted from its relationship with Georgia Southern University. Fans of the school’s team were quick to throw their support behind Tormenta — especially as a handful of Georgia Southern players have made appearances for the squad during the collegiate offseason.
It also helps to be able to share Georgia Southern’s field.
“For the playoffs, it’s great to have a soccer specific stadium,” Eason said. “That’s something that a lot of our clubs can’t say. Many games are played on football fields and at high schools. It’s great to be able to play on a full soccer field that has the setting of being on a college campus.”
Eason added that the quality of Tormenta’s online streaming was another huge plus for its bid to host the playoffs. Since its inaugural season in 2016 every Tormenta home match can be viewed online live and for free through the club’s website. Tormenta’s game production will be on hand for all three playoff games and links to watch remotely can be found at both tormentafc.com and the official website of the PDL.
Tickets can be purchased through Tormenta’s website or at the gate.
Jad Arslan notched a hat trick against Peachtree City MOBA in Tormenta's win over its in-state rival last weekend.
Arslan likely spent the week running through the nightmares of MOBA players throughout the week as a rematch loomed Saturday evening in metro Atlanta. Indeed, those bad dreams turned into a reality as Arslan scored once more to push Tormenta ahead early en route to a 2-0 victory over Peachtree City.
"I thought we played very well, and we had to in order to get this win," said Tormenta coach Jorge Gonzalez. "Winning two straight on the road is challenging enough, but to do it against the same team — that's not something you get a chance to do often."
Arslan resumed his role as perpetual thorn in MOBA's side in the 37th minute.
Jamie Merriam used some fancy footwork to get through a pair of defenders while making a run into the box. Just before he was pinched off, Merriam slid the ball to his left to find a wide open Arslan who easily blasted a shot past the keeper to get the scoring started.
"Getting the first one is always big," Tormenta midfielder Reed Norton said. "It was a great play to watch develop and it gave us the momentum."
While goals have come in bunches at times for Tormenta this season, Saturday's win required a bit more effort from the defense. Tormenta controlled the ball and the pace of play for the majority of the match, but Peachtree City was the aggressor for nearly 10 minutes of the first half and manufactured a few more chances in the final 45 minutes of play.
Even when MOBA possessed the ball well into Tormenta territory, good chances were hard to come by. South Georgia's back line was solid throughout the game and Matt Rosenberg saved the only two threatening shots he faced in botching his fifth clean sheet of the season.
"I think the entire back line was solid all night," Tormenta defender Ayou Sossou said. "We controlled the middle and pushed them outside all night. Our offense was able to find those shots from the middle to make the difference."
Peachtree City recorded one of its few shots on goal in the 57th minute, but the tables were immediately turned.
Tormenta head coach John Miglarese insisted during the team's early struggles that things would eventually click. Following Rosenberg's save, a quick outlet pass was followed by four more that traversed the length of the field — crossing and re-centering along the way — before Arslan found the net again.
The strike was called back for offsides but served as a testament to the well-oiled machine that Tormenta has become.
"If you don't know soccer, you might not notice, since it was called back," Gonzalez said. "But that was a really pretty run. Everyone was running together and worked down the field. If it had counted, that would have been one of the better goals you'll see."
The offside call kept the Tormenta lead at a fragile 1-0, but Mikie Rowe — who netted two goals of his own in last weekend's win over MOBA — found room near the top of the box on the left side and drove a shot into the right side of the net in the 72nd minute.
"I think that one really put the nail in it," Rowe said.
When asked if the seven combined goals from he and Arslan earned them privileges on the ride home, he was also quick to spread the wealth.
"We've had a lot of guys step up," Rowe said. "It's been me and Jad for two games, but it was Jamie before that and our defense too."
With the win, Tormenta remains in the chase for a berth in the PDL Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tormenta comes home and has a week of rest before hosting the Tri-Cities Otters July 15 in the regular season finale.
The two sides have met twice already this season, with each team recording a 1-0 home victory.