Anchored by its core principles, the Dr. Phillips Soccer Club has grown from just three participants to more than 60.
To best understand the Dr. Phillips Soccer Club, and how the youth organization has grown from just three players to more than 60, it helps to understand its philosophy — and its greatest success story.
The club, started by Rafael Navarro and his four sons in 2011, aims to make the game available to any child who wants to play, regardless of socioeconomic status, boasting some of the most affordable prices in Central Florida. DPSC puts player development at the forefront, and the staff seeks to teach kids the game the right way, emphasizing discipline and respect along the way.
The organization’s leaders also want it to be a vehicle through which local youth in the Dr. Phillips, MetroWest and Windermere areas can cultivate a fit and active lifestyle.
That part is of particular importance to the Navarro family, because they’ve seen it work firsthand. Mateo Navarro, the youngest of Rafael Navarro’s sons, was obese as a child — and he was bullied because of it.
His father and his three older brothers set out to use soccer as a remedy, and — thousands of hours of training later — not only is Mateo Navarro no longer obese, but he is training with the professional soccer team A.C. Perugia in Italy.
That success story within the nuclear Navarro family has served as a model through which they hope to similarly impact other local youths. The proof of the effectiveness has been in the program’s growth.
“It’s been a long process, but it’s been a good process — the local community has helped us out a lot,” said Nicolas Navarro, Mateo’s older brother and one of the program’s lead coaches. “We try to keep it as family-friendly as possible. As word got out, we started getting more and more players.”
The club’s competitive travel teams play in the Florida Elite Youth Soccer League and, over the years, there has been on-the-field success to mirror the organization’s growth. Last year, DPSC’s U14 team was invited to play at the World Futsal Tournament at Disney, where it placed third.
The club practices at Edgewood Children’s Ranch, its home since 2015. Before that, the club bounced around looking for a permanent practice space. Although Nicolas said the partnership with Edgewood has been a blessing, the club also hopes to continue to grow.
“Our goal is to find another facility where we are able to offer more training so we can help more kids,” he explained.
Another goal is to find more sponsors for scholarships. There already are scholarships offered by DPSC, but currently they are an out-of-pocket expense of the coaches.
DPSC has begun its fall season, but any families interested in getting their youngsters involved are encouraged to reach out. Keeping in line with the club’s larger philosophy, new players ages 4 to 17 always are welcome to get involved.
“There’s open-registration, and there’s no contract,” Nicolas Navarro said. “We want kids to join soccer any time of the year — it doesn’t stop.”