By Karen Brainard
A soccer feud is afoot in Ramona, but it’s not among the players.
It’s among parents who say they are looking out for the best interests of the soccer players.
Youth recreational and competitive soccer were both under the nonprofit Ramona Soccer League (RSL). Early in 2012 the competitive teams became known as Ramona Futbol Club (RFC) but still operated under RSL. That changed on Nov. 26, 2012, when the RSL board voted to split RFC off into a separate entity, citing such reasons as animosity between the two groups and a board election that was full of irregularities, according to the meeting minutes.
“This split has been brewing for years and years. It’s always been an issue between competitive and recreational,” said David Jordan, who was RSL president at that time and now serves as RFC president. But, he added, “Both of the programs need the other to be healthy.”
Splitting into two groups turned out to be not a simple task when dealing with the RSL funds and assets, especially when considering a difference in fees between competitive and recreational players and the purchase of equipment for the competitive teams within months before the vote to split, as well as the purchase of portable tower lights just after the vote. Those purchases totaled nearly $22,000.
Although RFC is using the equipment and lights, who owns and is responsible for them continue to be a point of contention between the two groups. Both soccer groups have consulted with attorneys and have lobbied accusations.
“We would just like to get the assets that are rightfully ours and paid for by parents over the years,” said RSL Vice President David Williams.
He and Treasurer Dawn Perfect point to an agreement between the two organizations that says if RFC does not have nonprofit status by July 31, the equipment and lights should be returned to RSL, but the agreement was never signed by both parties.
Jordan, who noted the agreement is non-binding, said RFC has applied for nonprofit status and is waiting for the federal government’s approval.
RSL leases soccer fields and a snack bar at Ramona Community Park, also called Wellfield Park, from the Ramona Parks and Recreation Association. Ramona Municipal Water District owns the property. RSL board members said the group had been saving money in its account for years to create more soccer fields.
RFC leases fields at Ramona Unified School District school sites such as Hanson Elementary and Ramona Community School. Jordan said the portable lights are needed for the school fields. Perfect said RSL needs use of the lights, too.
Perfect noted that over 500 youths are registered for the coming RSL season and that the league gives teenagers, ages 14 to 18, a chance to play without a required minimum grade point average as in school sports. She also said players have the ability to work off registration fees.
“It’s very successful,” she said of the RSL program.
RFC parents said a higher level of competitive play and coaching that will provide more opportunities for players to be noticed by college coaches were reasons behind the formation of Ramona Futbol Club, which partners with the Arsenal FC program. Jordan said his daughter, as well as other Ramona youths, participated in leagues “down the hill” to find more competitive play before RFC was formed. The new club is attracting players from other communities, including Escondido, Poway and Rancho Bernardo, he said.
RFC and RSL each offer recreational and competitive programs.