While soccer parents, club and youth soccer leadership everywhere are debating the rising costs associated with youth soccer, Northwest FC is leading the way in providing increased value to their players while keeping expenses at a minimum. Founded in 2013, this progressive Hilliard-area soccer club has over forty competitive teams, twenty-plus recreational teams, and resources dedicated to fostering physical fitness, technical skills, mental toughness, and tactical awareness in young players. Northwest also provides financial aid and scholarships for families in need, demonstrates their commitment to volunteerism that reduces costs, and works endlessly to make lasting impacts on player development. With an unwavering dedication to their players' potential, Northwest FC is taking youth soccer to the next level through cost-effective opportunity, breaking down barriers so everyone can be part of the game.
Northwest FC is an OSMD Insider and paid sponsor of Ohio Soccer Moms and Dads.
Club President and Director Tim Phlegar shared with us that “The philosophy of Northwest FC is based on the principle of developing well-rounded players who possess technical skills, physical fitness, mental toughness, and tactical awareness. This involves a focus on individualized training, small-sided games, and encouraging creativity and risk-taking on the field. Additionally, Northwest FC places emphasis on the importance of character development and instilling values such as teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship.”
When asked about affordability Phlegar shared that they are ”focused on providing the most value for the cost.” It is not the focus of Northwest FC to be the cheapest club in the area.” He shares that “the club looks through the lens of the families. Many want the full competitive travel experience and competition but at a more affordable level.”
Central Ohio and the Ohio Region as a whole has many talented players and high level teams. This is a point that has been made by many local club directors and even the Columbus Crew SC (made evident by their increasing investment into the Crew Network initiative). Phlegar acknowledged this as well and by participating in local leagues with manageable travel schedules Northwest FC’s teams can have the same competitive experience as a club or team that participates in a national or broader regional league without added costs. He adds “we take the approach of finding the best competition available without the heavy travel expectations, especially for the younger ages.”
Founded through the generous willingness of volunteers, Northwest FC still embraces this same spirit and maintains an affordable fee structure. To do so, the club's leadership concentrates on four key elements.
1. Prioritize essential costs: The club prioritizes spending on essential costs such as field rentals, equipment, and coaching staff to ensure that participants receive a high-quality experience. Non-essential costs are avoided to keep the fees affordable.
2. Seek sponsorships and donations: Northwest FC forms strategic partnerships with local businesses and community members to offset costs and keep fees low. This is primarily done through sponsorships, and fundraising efforts.
3. Volunteer participation: Northwest encourages volunteer participation from parents, community members, and former players to reduce costs associated with hiring staff. Volunteers help with coaching, administration, and facility upkeep, which significantly reduces the cost of running a program.
4. Offer scholarships and financial aid: Northwest FC is a leader in our commitment to offer scholarships and financial aid to families who cannot afford the full cost of participation. The club has an application process and review committee that approves requests based on each family’s individual needs.
“By combining these strategies, our organization is able to provide high-quality player experiences while keeping fees affordable for all participants.” explains Phlegar.
Although Northwest FC is based in Hilliard, families come from all over the surrounding communities. In addition to Hilliard, Northwest FC serves families from neighboring communities including Columbus, Dublin, Galloway, Grandview, Grove City, London, Marysville, Plain City, Upper Arlington, and West Jefferson (and many more communities). Having such a broad reach into local communities allows their members to advocate for the program, raising awareness, and gaining support and resources from across a broad network. “What we do as a non-profit club wouldn’t be possible without the partnerships and support from the local governments and school districts.” Phlegar shared, “Overall, the community's engagement, support, and participation make a significant difference in achieving affordable programs, ensuring that we deliver the desired outcomes and benefits to those who need it the most.”
We asked Northwest FC to share their plans for the future of the club and for their communities. Just like their deliberate pathway to build the club they are taking intentional steps to strengthen their ability to make a long-term, positive impact on players. Phlegar explained how “This started with hiring a new Director of Coaching, Hamid Shariff. He is setting a clear path for coaches and players to follow. This includes defined principles of play, coaching education and resources, and establishing a comprehensive training program for all skill levels.” The club is also focused on continuous improvement in their operational structure and he explained how they are “always seeking out additional strategic partnerships (examples include the Columbus Crew and Orthopedic One) to improve the environment for our players and families.” Taking their role as a non-profit and position in the community very seriously, Phlegar shared that “the club is determined to be a good steward of the clubs’ finances to position Northwest FC to be well positioned to support the mission of the non-profit.”
Northwest FC's initiative to provide affordable and quality youth soccer programming proves that the organization is deeply invested in the success of their players. Through cost-effective opportunities, extensive coaching education, comprehensive training plans, collaboration with community partners, and an unending dedication to their players' potential, Northwest FC is demonstrating what it means to be at the forefront of progressive youth soccer. Their efforts provide a blueprint for other clubs looking to make positive impacts on player development while ensuring financial affordability without sacrificing player development or competitive opportunities.