PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Pensacola Football Club 1559 will be undergoing some league changes for the upcoming season.
The two-time National Champion women’s program is joining the Gulf Coast Premier League for 2023, while the men’s division will not return to the GCPL.
PFC’s women’s program was founded as the Gulf Coast Texans in 2011. Winning both the 2012 and 2019 Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) titles and appearing in the 2017 and 2018 WPSL finals.
PFC underwent ownership changes in 2019 and has since strengthened its relationship with local youth organization, Coastal Rush.
“Under previous ownership the women’s side was in the WPSL up until last year when they made the move to the UWS,” Vice President Jonathan Rednour said. “About halfway through the season last year, they folded. I mean, the travel was too much for them. They were traveling all the way to Atlanta.”
With the GPSL being more regionalized, Rednour said this will give the women’s team more people to play with less travel.
“Travel is not as demanding because we have teams in Hattiesburg and Mobile,” Rednour said. “The women’s team has always been strong, so instead of folding, let’s join the GCPL and get our strength back and if they want to join the national stage again later on, by all means. With the way the GCPL is growing, we are getting to the point where we are better than the national league because the teams playing in our league are pulling players from D-1 colleges.”
The two leagues serve as a way to grow college level players’ skills during the summer seasons. They provide developmental opportunities for amateur players.
“The NPSL is more of a national stage, and they have been around since 2001 so they have a little more prestige when it comes to who knows them,” Rednour said. “The GCPL, while we do operate during the summer, we are more for the aging players that are just coming out of college. It’s just amateur soccer. The one thing we do- want is a gameday environment. We want people to show out. There will be music, concessions and we want to encourage fans and supporters to come out there. Slowly but surely, we are getting there.”
With the women’s team coming into the GCPL, Rednour said it will give the fans more opportunities to come support the team.
“The GCPL is more of a community driven focus,” Rednour said. “We just want more engagement from the supporters and being able to actually travel to games. In the NPSL, Pensacola would have to travel to Jacksonville for games. No fans are traveling to Jacksonville, but will they travel to Mobile to play the Gulf Coast Rangers? I can guarantee you people will travel to that. So, we are focused on less travel and more fans coming to our games to develop that futbol culture.”
For owner Justin Witkin, the GCPL gives his team a balance of top-level competition without over-burdensome travel requirements.
“The Pensacola FC women’s team has a rich history of success winning and competing in multiple national championships in a variety of women’s leagues,” Witkin said. “The team expects to continue and build upon that success in the GCPL.”
The PFC men’s division, overseen by Nolan Intermoia, will not return for the 2023 season. PFC’s men’s program joined the GCPL in 2017, competing in five seasons with a combined 16-8-23 record.