East County soccer players head north to chase professional dreams

0
12
WEBSoccer.jpg

Two East County residents are continuing their dream of becoming U.S. professional soccer players by playing for the newly minted adult North County Battalion semi-pro soccer team.

Sean Ritchey, 23, a Grossmont High School grad living in La Mesa and Justin Picou, 25, a Helix High alum who grew up in Lemon Grove, have both hitched their immediate fortunes to NC Battalion’s wagon.

Two East County residents are continuing their dream of becoming U.S. professional soccer players by playing for the newly minted adult North County Battalion semi-pro soccer team.

Sean Ritchey, 23, a Grossmont High School grad living in La Mesa and Justin Picou, 25, a Helix High alum who grew up in Lemon Grove, have both hitched their immediate fortunes to NC Battalion’s wagon.

The Battalion is an adult soccer club in North County, which was launched in 2015 joining a network of 80 soccer clubs that are members of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) division of United States soccer. The North County team in Carlsbad plays its home games at Del Norte High School in the Poway Unified School District.

NC Battalion’s mission is to showcase soccer while giving back to local communities. And Ritchey and Picou are NC Battalion’s new “ambassadors.”

“I’ve been playing soccer since I could walk,” said Ritchey, 23, whose dad was a soccer coach for his two older sisters. “I played soccer at Grossmont High then went to UC Merced and played three years of club soccer there.”

Asked if he’s pursuing soccer as a career, Ritchey replied, “Absolutely, I’ve always aspired to being a professional,” while admitting, “Not everyone’s believed in me — so I’ve always been fighting for myself.”

Now age 25, Picou’s been playing soccer since age 5.

Asked why he’s involved, Picou said, “I like the energy and the passion I find with soccer,” adding playing the sport “came naturally.”

Picou said soccer, which “came naturally” for him, is physically demanding.

“Soccer players are the fittest of any sport,” he said, noting front-line soccer players run four-to-seven miles in the course of a typical game.

“You’re not going to see that with any of the other sports,” Picou said adding, “I just love the game. It’s hard to describe the joy of just playing.”

Ritchey believes soccer is on the rise, both nationwide and in San Diego. And he hopes to catch a wave on the sport’s cresting popularity.

“Honestly, I almost feel like I’m 10 years too old for soccer in the United States,” he said. “In just a few short years, I’ve seen soccer leagues expand and ESPN 3 sign a deal to have soccer on TV. There’s also the potential for a Major League Soccer (MLS) team here in San Diego by 2020, with the MLS expanding to 24 teams by 2018.”

Picou concurred there’s nowhere for soccer to go but up in the Unites States.
“Soccer is growing in America and it’s going to continue to grow,” he said adding, “I’m just happy to be playing the game. I love playing at a high level. If I can help my team win a game every week, I’m happy with that. If I get picked up by the pros, that would be great. If I don’t and I have to stay here in San Diego — I’m perfectly fine with that as well.”

“San Diego is really a hub of soccer in the United States,” agreed Ritchey who implored San Diego soccer fans to “come and check out and support North County Battalion.”
More information about the NC Battalion can be found at www.NCBattalion.com or by following the club on Twitter (@NCBattalion), Instagram (@NCBattalion), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/northcountybattalion).

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here