HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A sport that has gradually grown in the Pine Belt through the years – soccer will now be featured on a minor league level in Hattiesburg.
The Southern States Soccer Club will represent the Hub City in the Gulf Coast Conference of the 94-team National Premier Soccer League.
Hattiesburg’s Southern States club joins a conference of seven, featuring teams from Biloxi, New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida.
Former William Carey men’s soccer coach Nigel Boulton heads the operation as the team’s general manager. Boulton founded Southern States Soccer in 2015 as a way to develop local youth players from the ages of four to 19-years-old.
“We just hope that it’s something that people will be excited to go watch and see a competitive game of soccer in the area,” Boulton said. “A team here they can feel proud of and support and hopefully we’ll win more games than we lose.”
One of Boulton’s former players at WCU, Carl Reynolds, will serve as the head coach. Reynolds was a two-time All-American with the Crusaders before coaching in Spain, for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and having a brief playing career with the NPSL’s Chattanooga FC.
The inaugural season is scheduled to begin May 2021 and run through August 2021.
“We’re not under any illusions that we’re going to compete with the SEC and the NFL and all of that stuff.” Reynolds said. “I think what’s really unique is the timing of this league. The fact that it’s in the summer, in those summer months when there’s not too much going on. It gives sports fans, soccer fans the opportunity to get involved in a local organization.”
Reynolds and Boulton plan to hold open tryouts for the expansion team, seeking predominantly college players who are able to play during the summer.
Southern States Soccer will play at the Oakes Training Center in Oak Grove. The club has yet to decide on a team nickname.