By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Family is the identity of the NPSL’s FC Motown.
FC Motown is a club made of players, coaches, front office management, and ownership that everyday displays grit, hard work, and determination in all they do, on and off the pitch.
This collective identity shined bright during the club’s 2022 U.S. Open Cup run in April, where it made through to the Third Round, finally seeing defeat after penalty kicks against Rochester New York FC of MLS Next Pro. A group of businessmen and truckers, international faces, and longtime locals came together to compete and give their all, and can stand proudly as the farthest-reaching Open Division club in the tournament.
But most importantly, a group of brothers battled on the field for one of their own who was in the fight for his life away from it. Sainclair Tueno, a beloved Motown player and family member, passed away on May 12 from injuries sustained in a March automobile accident.
“This has been a painful period in the club’s history,” said acting FC Motown head coach and defender Gideon Baah. “I know his ambitions and his drive. I have seen his determination to play for the club and to excel as an individual as well as a soccer player. It is a great loss to the Motown community, and we will miss him dearly.”
The NPSL side continually played to represent everything great that Tueno was, trying their best to emulate his character and devotion to the sport in everything they did on and off the field. From warm-up tops to crowdfunding campaigns, FC Motown’s motivation to win and advance in the Open Cup came from supporting Tueno.
“We miss him tremendously,” said FC Motown general manager Gregory Irwin. “Sainclair’s fight united the team and everything in the Open Cup was for him; that was our foundation.”
Family is a core element of the club and therefore also Baah’s coaching strategy, as he brings a global soccer-playing experience to his squad. Baah focuses on his player-coach relationship as a way to build rapport with his teammates while also teaching them every day.
With that built trust and rapport comes the chance to push each other to strive for growth and improvement. Sports success is, at its very core, measured by results. Wins, losses, trophies, and titles are the end goal, and that is no different at FC Motown. But the way the Celtics achieve those goals is different from other clubs.
“We have guys that work in the finance sector and others that are truck drivers; you name it, we’ve got it,” said Irwin. “Everyone has incredible passion for the game and along with it a fantastic comradery. There’s clearly such a love for the game throughout this level of soccer, and our club is exactly that.”
FC Motown showed the United States what that passion for the sport looked like as it advanced following three closely-decided Open Cup matches. As a result, $25,000 was awarded to the Celtics for their finish atop the Open Division competitors. For that success, Baah extends his gratitude to Motown’s ownership for the efforts they’ve contributed over the years.
“I always appreciate the work of Scott (Kindzierski) and Dan (Karosen),” said Baah. “It’s been an awesome journey for them, and having just come to the club, I see the work they’ve done to help their players, their families and to give us the atmosphere to keep playing soccer. Kudos to them, it’s tremendous.”
Irwin echoed the words of support by Baah and added that it takes an entire staff at the NPSL level to make a 90-minute match function well, saying how proud he is of his and other league clubs on a daily basis. Irwin notably wished to express his gratitude for the likes of Alan McClintock, Matt Heitmann, Dave Pekarek, Jonathan Lopuski, Toure Weaver, U.S. Soccer, those who supported the club in the Open Cup run along with the NPSL for its devotion to the sport.
As it has been said already, family is the identity of FC Motown. That family trains together; it travels to road matches together; it enters and exits the pitch together and fights for league and national championships together. Together as one, this family comes from all walks of life, culture, nation, and profession, and together the family celebrates and it mourns.
That is what FC Motown is and hopes to continually be, especially throughout this special 2022 season: Family.
Photo Credit: Scott Cordaro Photography