Between the local colleges and semi-pro/pro teams (all the way up to FC Dallas at the MLS level), local soccer fans have a lot of options for watching the beautiful game. This season, Johnson County, just south of Fort Worth, will add a new club to the mix. Local businessmen Matt Kahla, Jr. and Brentt Miller have started Keene FC. The club will play in the UPSL (United Premier Soccer League) and employ former college players and the like looking to develop their games and advance to higher leagues.
Below is the email Q&A I had with Miller about his first-year team’s plans. They begin preseason play with an April 15 friendly at home against Fort Worth’s Inocentes FC. Keene starts the regular season on the road against Dallas Elite FC May 12, and stages its home opener May 20 against Texas Spurs FC.
How did you and your business partners get involved in this venture, and who does what in the front office?
Matt was working with some NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) and PDL (Premier Development League) teams, helping them with marketing and basically trying to build attendance. Cleburne had brought in a PDL team to their brand-new stadium, “The Depot.” We were both soccer fans and attended all of the games and started realizing there was an untapped market in the area. There was a schedule conflict and one of the games was moved to Keene. With three days notice, Matt was able to put the word out and build up a little over 350 people.
That is when we started planning Keene FC. Matt has had a lot of success at marketing different teams and became the UPSL Conference director. A spot opened up for a team and Matt and I agreed it was now or never. Matt was going to do the marketing and I would do the operations.
Where will you play your home games?
The key to making this team happen was Keene ISD and their athletics department. They have been very easy to work with and offered their high school field for us to play home games on. They also turned us on to our first team sponsor, Loaf’n Dog in Cleburne! Casey Waits has been a great supporter.
When does the season start and how long will it run?
Season starts mid-April and runs through August.
What ticket packages will be available and when and how can fans purchase them?
Currently we have our Supporters season ticket package. We want to keep the price reasonable and at 10-13 home games we felt the price point would build a sizable fan base!
$40.00 Adult Season tickets, $20.00 Child 14-and-younger Season Tickets
Your hashtag reads #supportthecharge – what is the story behind that?
“Support the Charge” is a reference to Keene’s need for electricity in the 1930’s. Three students took it upon themselves to build an electric generator plant for the town. “Support the Charge” is an ode to those students.
You’ve announced Ebenezer Fowobaje as your coach. Tell us a little bit about his background and why you felt he would be a good fit for your club.
Coach Ebby is well known in the Texas soccer community! He is from Nigeria and has played in two World Cups. He currently runs Complete Soccer Academy and from the time I have been around him, you will not find another coach more sincere and hardworking than Ebby. In the tryouts, he commands attention and the players instantly respect him! We are very fortunate to have crossed paths (thank you Adan Aguilar)!
What’s the caliber of play in the league in which you’ll play, the United Premier Soccer League?
The play is super-competitive and these gentlemen take these games seriously. They want to be signed by professional teams and with the right exposure we feel we can make that happen!
Fans always love having an opponent to especially dislike. Which other franchises have the potential to become rivals for Keene FC?
Everyone we play will be a rival! I think that is what the players want and the fans definitely want to come and see a game that means something. Fort Worth’s Inocentes FC is in our division and they have history that dates back to the late 70’s in Mexico. Denton FC is also a really good club that joined the UPSL and looks to be a tough adversary! Our main rivals will be the crosstown rival FC Cleburne with whom we are still working to set up a couple of friendly matches.
What’s the basic business plan for how soccer at this level can be a viable commercial endeavor?
The basic business plan is to build around your community and network to assemble your team! Working with universities, businesses, and different groups to build awareness and give back to the community is the most important aspect.
Why did you feel Keene was the best place to locate the franchise?
We wanted a small community that was receptive and a wide demographic to offer the soccer experience to. We want to bring soccer to Keene most importantly!
You’ve added a sponsor named Dimecoin. Why is that deal significant and how will the relationship be implemented?
Dimecoin and the community that follows the cryptocurrency market are backing our team and we are the first U.S. team to partner with a cryptocurrency. We have provided options on our website to sell merchandise with cryptocurrency and we have had raffles accepting Dimecoin to help users get familiar with micro-transactions! Ryan (Downey) and his development team have been nothing but accommodating in their support of our team!