Ted Lasso and Welcome to Wrexham were massive hits with American audiences. The content brought soccer to the forefront of pop culture and social media. Now the NPSL’s Napa Valley 1839 FC hopes to achieve some of the same objectives with their series Food, Wine, and Football: A Napa Valley Story.
Napa Valley 1839 FC Owner Arik Housley has served as the executive director for the series.
“I have been acting as the executive producer as this project was my baby,” Housley said. “I studied the industry at Pepperdine many years ago and understood the process. I randomly ran across a kid I used to coach that is now a man named Connor Bates and noticed he was a filmmaker. Some of his Instagram reels were really, really good. I messaged him and right away we both loved the idea that was in my head. Bryson Valencia, a good friend of Connor’s, helped with videography, color, and editing as well. We also got some support from Mario Cendejas.”
He paired with filmmaker Connor Bates to create the content. Bates would provide a strong vision for what the content would become.
“Having grown up in Napa Valley, I understand that there is an infectious energy amongst its community,” Bates noted. “When Arik approached me with the idea to capture the story of the Napa Valley 1839 soccer club and its integration into Napa Valley as a whole, my first thought was we need to capture the people. The people of the team, the people surrounding the team, everyone. So that’s what we did. In the series you’ll see and hear from actual members of the Napa Valley community who provide such awesome insight into what makes Napa Valley so special.”
The inspiration came from several sources.
“I had watched F1, Welcome to Wrexham, and Chef’s Table,” Housley added. “If Napa Valley is what we believe and lower league soccer is a growing niche, why not tell our story? One of the players, both men and women, chasing their dream of playing the game they love while
working in the food, wine, and hospitality industries of the Napa Valley.”
Housley explained that the docuseries will eventually serve a variety of purposes.
“First to raise awareness of our brand, who we are and what we do, to the local community as well as the regional and national viewer,” Housley continued. “It is also intended to tell our story of a destination that much of the media has turned into a narrative of being pretentious, yet there are real people here doing something you’d never believe, playing soccer or making that happen behind the scenes. We are hoping this is a way to find our next investor that will bring the resources we need to continue to grow the organization.”
Bates had very clear goals for the content they created, and those goals certainly look like they have been accomplished.
“The ultimate goal of the story behind the series was to capture the hard-working, authentic, and heartfelt side of Napa Valley that is so often overlooked with its glitz and glamor,” Bates remarked. “We captured the emotions of the 1839 soccer club players and their real journey and challenges as they balance everyday life with their pursuit of a professional. In the series you’ll encounter laughs, cheers, aspirations, hardships, and well, lots of wine. That is a Napa Valley story.”
The story behind Napa Valley 1839 FC is clearly more than just the game of soccer.
“The series intends to tell stories of our people and our team, especially the growth of the women’s game,” Housley explained. “We give back to our community through cause kits that raise money for gun violence prevention, mental health, cancer research. We have raised tens of thousands between all the causes over the past years, even $5,000 for a family in Maui trying to get back on their feet. and now farmworker health we raised another $5,000 toward Ole Health which provides services even into the fields. We know $5,000 won’t solve the need yet every bit helps to raise money and awareness of their services.”
The docuseries has set the standard for content creation from amateur soccer clubs in America.
“We already see the series as a success,” Housley concluded. “For it to meet and exceed our expectations, we would love to take it to the next level by getting a Netflix or Apple TV type contract. The episodes we made were just scratching the surface of our valley and the hospitality industry. We believe the amateur soccer story in America, especially with the World Cup coming, is compelling. We will see if we can fund ourselves more episodes or if what we’ve created brings in more ad dollars, sponsors, or new ownership.”
In any case, Napa Valley 1839 FC is now on the map thanks to the brilliant storytelling from Housley and Bates and the inspiring story of the people and places of Napa Valley.
Photo Credit: Don Lex