The Villages Soccer Club eyes new stadium in Oxford
Anderson DaSilva poses in a goal on one of the fields at The Villages Soccer Club on U.S. Highway 301 in Summerfield, Fla. on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. DaSilva was the head soccer coach of the Ocala Stampede, when in 2008 he started the new soccer team named the The Villages S.C. In 2015, Maen Hussein became a co-owner of The Villages S.C. The team currently has 3 fields, an indoor practice facility for younger players, a beach volleyball area and other amenities at their large facility just south of Belleview. Their next game will be played at their home field on July 10 at 7 p.m. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
An 88-acre property in Oxford could soon be home to a 2,500-seat soccer stadium, according to plans presented at the Marion County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on June 29.
Anderson DaSilva, co-founder and head coach of The Villages Soccer Club, has a grand vision for their current complex located on U.S. Highway 301 near the Marion County line.
Right now, the team uses about 30 acres, which includes three fields, a covered training facility and a main house used for team meetings and other team functions.
The expansion plans cover an additional 58 acres and would add two fields, the stadium, a restroom and concession area, internal roadways and additional parking and lighting.
The Villages SC is a semi-professional soccer team that plays in USL League Two. The league currently has 83 teams split among several regional conferences. The Villages SC plays in the Southern Conference as part of the six-team Southeast Division.
In 2019, the last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, the team won the division before losing in the conference semifinals.
The facility is currently hosting area youth for summer camps.
On a recent visit, the practice fields were empty due to inclement weather in the area, but camp participants weren’t missing a beat.
A group of elementary-age campers took part in drills with club players inside the training building. Older campers watched professional soccer highlights in a spacious auditorium with other club members.
DaSilva sees the complex and surrounding property as an opportunity to grow the sport in many ways, even for school-age players.
“We want to model IMG Academy,” DaSilva said, referring to the preparatory boarding school and sports training facility in Brandon.
While IMG includes several sports, DaSilva’s plan is for soccer only. He envisions a facility that can house aspiring soccer players in a setting where they can hone their athletic skills and earn their education at the same time.
But for now, DaSilva is focused on the club’s stadium project.
The planning and zoning commission voted unanimously to recommend the project for approval. The Marion County Commission will consider the plan at a future meeting. Commissioners are not bound by the P&Z commission’s recommendation.
Meanwhile, the club has not lost a home match since they began play at the Summerfield complex.
Former club players have gone on to play at the Major League Soccer level, the top tier in the United States.
Paulo Pita (LA Galaxy), Josh Fawole (DC United) and Gabriel Torres (Hartford Athletic) were either drafted or signed to play in MLS after playing with The Villages SC.
DaSilva and co-founder Dr. Maen Hussein said they hope to continue providing fans quality soccer.
“It’s a great time for everyone,” DaSilva said. “There’s music, the fans are loud, it’s so much fun!”
The Villages Soccer Club plays its next home match on July 10 against Tampa Bay United. The match starts at 7 p.m., and parking lots open at 6 p.m.
For information, including ticket prices, visit thevillagessc.com.