Recent experiences with competitive soccer teams

Hello everyone,

We are moving to El Cerrito from the Midwest this summer, and have a 10 year old who is part of a competitive soccer team in our home state.  There seems to be multiple different teams in the area that he can join--specifically we are looking at Mersey, Spurs FC and ABSC.  He is very interested in playing goalie and would love to get specific goalie training.  He enjoys being in a competitive environment but doesn't get overly intense. We have looked at the different websites and emailed the various contacts, but would love to get a parent's viewpoint regarding the different teams. Many of the reviews on BPN are from several years ago. Since we are new in the area, we are hoping to get to meet other (diverse/open-minded/global citizen-type) people, and we are hoping this may be a way to do so. Any insight as to how inclusive these teams' environments are for children and parents would be great as well!

Many thanks.

Parent Replies

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We had a terrible experience with the Spurs in 2016, about 2.5 years ago. The recreational U8 team was super-competitive, with kids yelling at each other on the field about missed plays, and the coach did nothing; other parents did nothing; the league did nothing to teach/encourage sportsmanship. I had to pull my kid out because he was crying after every game from getting verbally harassed by his "teammates". I hate to think what competitive Spurs teams are like. In terms of diversity, in the practices where there's multiple teams on the field (Gilman Fields, huge complex) at once, I observed that the Spurs are predominantly white, with Asian maybe the next most populous group. El Cerrito itself is a pretty diverse city (having lived here for 9 years) and my kids go to the most diverse elementary school in West Contra Costa, which is located in El Cerrito (Fairmont), so I find it telling that the Spurs organization does not reflect the community. During these practices, I also observed a lot of coaches speaking to their young players in ways I would not have liked my children to be spoken to. Our problem with the coach my son had was almost the opposite.... he never provided any guidance or direction, assumed everyone knew how to play well already - again, in U8 rec. Wouldn't recommend Spurs.

We were  on Mersey many years ago --  Coach Bill O'Donnell is from Mersey area in England.  At the time a little bit of a Euro vibe to it.  So that's my 2 cents but this about 7 years ago.

I can honestly say I don't know who the poster below is referring to with respect to Spurs coaches. I don't deny their experiences...but I do not share them. We have been with Spurs since our child started in their Lil Spurs program at 2.5 years old. We have had nothing but healthy, positive, fun, enriching experiences with the club. Honestly. 

In a more general sense, ABSC is known in the area for being the more "rec"-oriented league, and the least organized. That's not a bash because they do what they do and it provides a great service but they are not the "comp" club of choice. 

Mersey is small and their level of play frankly doesn't hold up with clubs like Spurs as the kids get older.

Bay Oaks / East Bay United is another good comp program to consider. They're in Alameda so it's a bit more of a hike, but they are sound. 

But there's nothing the matter with Spurs for a solid comp experience. 


Tryouts for competitive teams have all happened and parents are paying reg fees now, so you may be challenged to find the 'best' team for Fall 2019 at this point. We've had a good experience w/ Bay Oaks (and EBU rec) for the last 5 years (my son is 05) and I know they offer specific Goalie support/training. In general, I think you'll find more 'open-mindedness/good sportsmanship' in a club that supports 'diversity' and that's what East Bay United (EBU) and Bay Oaks can offer consistently. Otherwise it's a crap shoot from year to year with new teammates/parents/coaches. Good luck!

ABSC is extremely disorganized and the people that run the organization are often unprofessional. My kids were in rec teams for a few years and it was fine but once they progressed to competitive it wasn't a good experience. I'd suggest checking out other comp programs in the area. I believe that the Spurs or Mersey offer specialized goalie training weekly which ABSC doesn't.

We have three kids who play on Spurs comp teams. The coaches are the best part of Spurs. The Club has undergone huge changes over the past year to be more communicative and inclusive and our experience has been great. 

Avoid ABSC. The club is very disorganized and you will have no idea what your schedule or team will be until literally the last minute. Also, you may get hit with surprise additional fees if your team has no coach (which is possible because the club is so disorganized).