Below are stories about PCFC coaches & staff and the vast ways in which football inspires and changes the lives of people all over the world.
1. The Power of Football
The following story, written by a local writer and Tottenham Spurs fan, exemplifies the power of football (and sports in general) to bring people from all over the world together. PCFC is incredibly lucky to have Andrew Mockett join our coaching staff. With nearly 30 years of coaching experience he brings the knowledge and professionalism that many clubs desperately desire but typically requires a significant amount of money to retain such a qualified coach. As a result that cost lands squarely on the backs of the families within the club. But Andy is volunteering his time because he has personally experienced the value that football has provided to him and he wants to give back. This is what makes PCFC so successful at providing high quality, affordable football. We believe in the power of the beautiful game to break down and break through the walls that prevent so many from playing at a high level.
Meet Andrew Mockett - By Jared Christensen
Connection to a community, a simple source of joy, a new challenge—soccer means something different to everyone. For Portland Community Football Club (PCFC) coach Andrew Mockett it means hope. Or as he wryly puts it, “Hope, passion, disappointment, frustration, then the hope again.” Andrew’s seen some of each in his journey with the game, which began as a schoolboy in Essex England where conditions were... informal. “We never practiced, showed up to the away games in 2 or 3 cars, and often got lost. Even for the first team, there were only 11 jerseys, so the sub would swap shirts with the departing teammate as they came off the field.” Andrew was was hooked by that early taste of the game though, and Essex backroads eventually became a stint with West Ham United’s Under-16s and then a playing scholarship across the pond at California State University Bakersfield. It was in the United States that Andrew began coaching high school and club teams, first in Bakersfield and then in Portland when he moved here with his family in 2008. A lifelong fan of the English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, Andrew was back in England attending a match at Wembley Stadium when they showed Portland Spurs, the official Portland supporters club, on the big screen. After the game he looked the group up, saw that they were fundraising for PCFC, and soon made the connection to start volunteering for PCFC as a coach. From England to Bakersfield to Portland, Andrew aims to share the joy he’s found in the global game with PCFC players: “My main goals is to give these kids the chance to be a part of a team, to work together and improve along the way. If they are enjoying themselves and learning, then I think I’ve done my job.”
“My main goals is to give these kids the chance to be a part of a team, to work together and improve along the way. If they are enjoying themselves and learning, then I think I’ve done my job.”
— Andrew Mockett
2. Every Club Needs a Carolina
One of the greatest indicators of growth and sustainability in business is being able to compensate those who contribute significant time, energy and passion to the mission of the organization. PCFC has now reached that level. After 5 years of operating on volunteer coaches and staff we are now able to offer small, but important monthly stipends to two key staff members.
Carolina Hernandez Morales started out with PCFC as a parent of two new players to the club in March 2017. It became obvious very quickly that she and her family not only loved the game, but had high expectations of what a club should offer their children. That mentality aligns perfectly with the mission of our club. As the Founder and Director of Coaching I quickly recognized a tenacity, drive and reliability in Carolina. As she came to understand more fully how PCFC is attempting to change the status quo of soccer she seamlessly became more involved. She began volunteering her time to coach several times a week and then without being asked took on the role of involving more kids and parents into our Development Level Program. In 3 months time she doubled the size of the program, lead our U10 Aztecas to the club's first ever tournament championship (along with Shema Jacques and her husband Ocires Morales) and joined our Board of Directors. Carolina is the kind of person that every organization hopes to find and so rarely does. I knew that the only way to truly ensure that Carolina would continue to provide such important support for the club was to compensate her. As of October 1, Carolina is now the Program Director for our Development Level Program. Donations and grant funding have made this financially possible, but it is also the commitment of our club to elevate people who our society often fails to recognize. Whether that is a player, coach or parent, we are committed to bringing people in marginalized communities out of the margins. You can read more about her in her own words below.
My name is Carolina Hernandez I am from a place in southern Mexico called Chiapas. My family and I migrated there when I was just 5 years old. I got into soccer when I was in middle school because it kept me busy and out of trouble. I was more of a tomboy then so I liked rough sports like baseball and Taekwondo. As I grew up I watched a lot of sports but the main one was baseball since my dad played baseball so that was our family pass of time.
In High School I tried out for the soccer team and I made it so that was my sport. Soccer is a sport that requires a lot of team work and that’s what I needed since I was a trouble maker and it was rare when I wasn’t in trouble. I didn’t know much of sportsmanship. If someone fouled me I went after them and looked for my revenge. Soccer was my way to be the best, focus in school and keep my grades up in order to graduate as well as my temperament. When life was hard growing up in an atmosphere where there is a lot of violence, gangs, drugs, and alcohol I found that soccer was my escape and there I can release all my anger in the field and be happy. I had to stop playing for more than 10 years but now I have my kids involved and that’s how I decided I need to find a way to be more involved. I want my kids to grow up loving a sport and having that sport be their path to success in life. Soccer turned my life around for the better and that is what I want everyone to know. It's not just a sport it’s a life style of happiness.
Now I’m glad I can make a difference in a child's life and I know I’m someone they will remember all their life since I believe in them and I don’t give up on them either. I’m showing each player that all things are possible if you believe in yourself. I really enjoy being around kids and being able to make a difference in their life, as well as in their parent’s life. It feels good after each game knowing we gave it our all and never quit. We have shown we can come from many backgrounds but through soccer we are one big family who support and care for each other.
3. A Video Seen ‘Round the World
On May 1st, 2017 Kaig Lightner decided it was time to tell the players something that he had been nervous about revealing to them. He told them he was born a girl. In preparation for telling the players at practice that evening he decided to have it recorded, mainly to document an event that is unusual but also to have something to share with the parents and players who weren't at practice that night. He never expected it to ignite national attention overnight! In just a little over 24 hours the video that Kaig posted to Facebook captured the attention of Outsports.com who wrote the first story about Kaig's coming out. Shortly after that Huffington Post picked up the story. Within a week of the first article many local, national and international news outlets had picked up the story and nearly 110,000 views on YouTube in a month!
While Kaig is certainly appreciative of the positive support by some of these large publications he is even more appreciative of the outpouring of love from his players, their families and the club supporters. His intention in telling the kids was to be honest with them but to also connect with them on the complexities of discrimination. As a white person Kaig is very aware that he has been given many privileges in his life. But it is through his experience of being a "different" kid that he also became painfully aware of how it feels to be judged simply based on the way one looks. He wanted to make sure the current and future players in PCFC knew that he could relate in someway to them as kids from Latino, African and low-income communities. He also had the message that through being open, honest, and real with one another we build community. Kaig is aware that not all kids (or adults) have the support or resources to do all those things, but it is his hope that through organizations like PCFC that more kids will find the community support they might be lacking otherwise.