Soccer Nation’s Villegas thankful for community support

Soccer Nation is a soccer enthusiast’s dream location where they can play and practice soccer year round. The 40,000 square foot facility has two, professional-lighted turf fields inside the building at 520 South 55th Street in Kansas City, Kansas.

It is a one of a kind soccer facility in Wyandotte County. It was the dream of owner Raul Villegas to open and operate a soccer facility for children and adults who want to play the game.

“I want the children to be able to be on a team and have the opportunity to play soccer. We do everything we can to make it happen for them,” he said.

Last week, Villegas celebrated his one-year anniversary with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the soccer field.

“I wanted to give all these boys and girls the opportunity to play. I wanted the kids to play on a professional field and work with them to develop their talent,” said Villegas.

His passion is soccer. Many have described him as a person who eats, sleeps, works and talks soccer all the time. That is why parents in the community approached him about starting a soccer league in their backyard in Wyandotte County.

Sandra Olivas, Business Development officer at Brotherhood Bank presented Villegas with a plaque recognizing him for his talent, dedication and exceptional service to the community.

“He wanted the children to have the opportunity to play soccer because he didn’t have that opportunity. When his family came to California from Mexico when he was 11 years old, he had to work to help his family. He wanted to play soccer with the other teens in his community, but he couldn’t,” said Olivas.

Fast forward to today and Villegas is helping to make it possible for children who dream of playing soccer to be able to do so. He formed a partnership with KCP&L to provide free soccer clinics for the children. Last year two clinics were held with players from Sporting KC. KCP&L provided food and t-shirts and soccer balls and shoes were handed out to the children for free by Sporting KC.

“The families have a lot of respect for him. They look up to him and he does everything top of the line,” said Olivas.

Before opening Soccer Nation, the El Padrino teams had to travel to Grandview, Missouri to practice and play. The trip to Grandview was costly for some of the families and the playing fees were high.

Families told him if he opened a facility close to their home, they would support it. Drive by Soccer Nation any day and the parking lot is filled with cars and inside families sit and watch the children practice or play.

Fourteen-year old Jonathan Santres and sixteen-year old Isaac Padilla are at Soccer Nation every Wednesday and Friday for practice. Both boys enjoy coming to the indoor soccer facility.

“I am here every weekend as I have three or four games usually on the weekends. It is a really nice place to play,” said Santres.

Padilla said that it is more convenient for his family to drive to the facility rather than having to drive to Grandview, Missouri for him to play.

“We had to drive farther before but now with it being in our own community, more Hispanic people are able to come here and let their children participate in soccer,” said Padilla.

It took Villegas eight months to build Soccer Nation into the professional facility he wanted for the children. “We have talented kids playing soccer,” he said.

His work in the community is not finished yet. He plans to locate property in Kansas City, Kansas to build outdoor soccer fields for the players and host tournaments in Wyandotte County. Thus letting families and their children stay close to home and not have to travel across the state line to play games.

Opening outdoor soccer fields in his home town will keep travel expenses down for the families and will keep money spent on food, gas for the cars and tournament fees in Wyandotte County.

“This is where I live, this is where my business is and this is where the majority of the kids live. I want to keep it in the community,” said Villegas.