The most important aspect of soccer is teamwork, and that team-like atmosphere was evident as team members and parents ran to greet each other with hugs and kisses at the Indiana Elite Futbol Club’s groundbreaking ceremony on May 10.
The new 56-acre complex, located on Samuelson Road in Portage, will begin construction in the next couple of weeks and will undergo three phases of construction. Phase one will include eight full-sized soccer fields and a temporary parking lot and restrooms; phase two will perpetuate the parking lot and restrooms, as well as add a concession stand; and phase three will expand into the other side of the complex to create five more soccer fields or to possibly create a futsal facility. Indiana Elite FC hopes for an August 2018 opening and to host their first soccer tournament that fall.
Based in Crown Point, Indiana Elite FC was founded by Novi Marojevic. He started the club in 2006 with only two players, and it has grown into an organization of over 300 kids from the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland area.
“Whatever I do, I do my best for the kids. My players call me Coach because they respect me and they like me, but I don’t think of myself as their coach. I think more of myself as their friend,” Marojevic said. “It’s not just about teaching soccer, but about educating them for the future so they know that it’s not all about soccer.”
Marojevic’s mission of teaching his players how to play soccer on the field as well as how to cultivate successful individuals off of the field is what originally drew a lot of the families to his club. Outside of soccer training, the club offers tutoring and ACT and SAT preparation classes for their players in order to help them succeed and further themselves academically as well as athletically.
"The original goal of building the fields was to host College Showcases. Beyond soccer, our Scholar's Academy offers college financial assistance in the form of Sage Tuition Rewards. We offer this to every single player in the club, Kindergarten - High School Juniors to help prepare them financially for college," said Yatza Marojevic, Club Administrator. "Soccer is a team sport. Our players learn how to win and how to lose. They learn how to support each other. They learn how to be a team. It isn't about just you, it is about the group. They learn to deal with disappointment and they learn how to move on. They learn that they are responsible for helping their teammates. They learn how to be a leader. These are life lessons that go beyond soccer."
Marojevic and the rest of the Indiana Elite community hope that this addition will not only bring more soccer interest to the Northwest Indiana area but that it will also benefit the Portage area community as a whole.
Anton Thompkins of Lake Shore Bone and Joint Institute, one of the organization’s largest sponsors, said, “This is a central location to host big tournaments, so there will be hundreds of teams coming into the community, and those teams have to stay somewhere and eat somewhere, so it will help the community, as well as the club supporting the kids further.”
This process, two and a half years in the making, has been a large team effort, and similar to a soccer team, every member in the process has played a key role.
“It’s not only the person who scores the goal, but it’s the person who assists, and the person who assists that person,” said Dan Botich, Senior Economic Development Specialist of SEH of Indiana. “You, players, are part of a larger picture, and these fields are part of a larger picture.”
Indiana Elite will be hosting open tryouts for all age levels, located at their current fields, from June 6-14. For more information about this or for ways to get involved with the upcoming Portage complex, visit http://www.indianaelitefc.com/home.