By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Spanning from South Africa to Richnmond, Virginia, aspiring soccer professionals will be able to refine their skills and grow in their talent in the NPSL through Grove Soccer United.
An extension of Grove Soccer Academy (GSA), located in Richmond, Grove Soccer United plans to use its global outreach to field a team this coming 2022 NPSL season with high, competitive aspirations and goals to follow.
Justin Grove, founder of Grove Soccer United, brings vast knowledge of the sport from his days of competing in NPSL for Charlottesville Alliance, the University of Richmond and professional stints with the Richmond Kickers and overseas in France and South Africa. Upon his return stateside, he founded GSA in 2014, which has since grown to around 150 participants.
“I was able to see all the different levels and see where NPSL matched up,” said Grove, discussing the inspiration to field his own team in the league. “I was also able to see the platform NPSL provides to be able to give players the opportunity to play at a certain level and to then move on to the next level.”
Also founding a full development academy in South Africa, Grove has had the unique chance to tap into a strong talent pool in that region of the world, using his expertise to grow that club to nearly 100 academy players.
Grove’s vision is to bring over the highest-level GSA South African players (once pandemic restrictions ease) to then combine with the strong local talent in the greater Richmond area, ultimately helping field Grove Soccer United in the near future.
“In the NPSL, our players are going to get good playing time at a high level, where they will be able to polish their game, grow and excel on a national platform,” said Grove. “Our program will have a mix of college students, our own academy players, and experienced men that will be able to lead others in their growth.”
Speaking particularly of the greater Richmond area, which has immense pools of soccer talent, Grove wants Grove Soccer United to play a crucial role in the sport in Eastern Virginia. Combining the elements of developmental academy practices with NPSL experience bridges the gap between academy, college, and professional play, says Grove.
Excitement is building for the newest NPSL club in many ways, including the community aspect that Grove hopes to create through Grove Soccer United matches. Beyond providing playing time opportunities for his players, fans will be able to watch high-quality matches under the lights during summer nights, while young kids can also be inspired by the atmosphere his players create; to one day be like them.
Aspirations and goals for the team and season are also set high, where Grove Soccer United looks to immediately compete against the best in the league.
“We pride ourselves on our environment in training and the way we do things, the culture that we built: It’s a culture of excellence and of quality,” said Grove. “[NPSL] is a place for players to come in and get ready for their fall season, but for us, it’s more than that.”
Building a winning squad that can make the playoffs and reach and capture a national title are heights which Grove wants his club to reach in NPSL while continuing that development of a culture with a winning mentality.
Whether his players come from South Africa or locally in Richmond, Grove knows his club’s first season in NPSL will further the goals of championship attitudes while continually growing to be the best soccer players these young athletes can become.
Photos Courtesy of Grove Soccer United