ST. GEORGE — Two local soccer clubs, Fire FC and CIMA Futbol, have announced that they will be merging to form a new Fire FC. The new club will also have a brand new director of coaching with the highest level of license from the Union of European Football Associations. With the merger, Fire FC will become one of the largest clubs in Southern Utah.
Fire FC was started in 2002 by Travis and Holly Wilkinson. Three years ago, they were approached by a representative from Liverpool FC and they decided to merge with them. After two years of partnership, they then decided to start Fire FC back up again.
When the original merger happened in 2017, many of Fire FC’s players left to play with the CIMA Futbol club in St. George, but with Fire FC starting their club back up, they have decided to merge with CIMA Futbol to create a larger club in St. George. The merger was announced on May 8 through Facebook. Through the merger, both clubs will also bring some board members to the new Fire FC.
CIMA Futbol was founded four years ago and its mission statement emphasizes playing soccer at the same commitment level, whether it be coaches or players. They also mention that there is no wrong commitment level to the sport of soccer and their goal is to help players get what they want out of the game.
CIMA President Jason Hendrix said that they are trying to find the best situations for the players in their club and increase resources. This was found in the merger.
“Every club has their strengths and every club has weaknesses,” Hendrix said. “As we looked at Fire and the strengths they had and the weaknesses we had, we just felt like it was a nice fit. We can strengthen each other, provide more opportunities for the players and coaches and capitalize on each other’s strengths to make it a better experience for everybody.”
Holly Wilkinson, Fire FC operations manager, echoed a similar sentiment and respect for CIMA and their program. She also brought up the idea that the program as a whole will cater to not only the more advanced soccer players but also those looking to have fun with the sport.
With St. George being a smaller market in comparison to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, it is also harder for athletes to get exposure and be seen by college recruiters.
“As a bigger club we can provide more resources,” Hendrix said. “We can provide programs that enable them to get exposure to colleges, college recruiters and coaches.”
While being a smaller market, the level of competition in St. George has been seen not only at the high school level but at all levels. Region 9 soccer teams, both boys and girls, have performed well around the state and in the state tournaments and Fire FC looks forward to fielding both boys and girls teams.
“One thing that I think is cool about club is, we get to pull from all the local high schools,” Willkinson said. “Our club isn’t just that you have to play for a certain high school, we’re looking at getting all of the best athletes in Washington County and that makes us a top-tier level club. The fun thing is, they go back to their high schools and they’re friends with the other kids they have been playing with in club.”
When asked about what parents of athletes should know about Fire FC and the merger, Hendrix harped on the idea of a club that has a spot for every player regardless of their skillset. There is a team, a position and a coach for any player to have a positive experience.
Wilkinson added that it makes it easier for families with multiple children looking to play soccer, they can all play in the same club.
“In a smaller club it’s harder to do that. You don’t have as many teams and coaches to put players in that customized spot,” Hendrix said. “I have no doubt that we can now provide across the board opportunities for players, regardless of their skill level.”
To register for tryouts with Fire FC or find more information, you can visit their website here.
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