The last glimpse that Oklahoma Cityans had to view professional soccer was in the form of the Oklahoma City Stampede members of the American Soccer League.
Despite a gallant effort, mild interest and modest turnouts led the Stampede, and the ASL, to quiet deaths in 1984. Since then, soccer fans have feasted on a city-wide offering of club and intramural leagues to satisfy their appetites.
However, there is a new soccer league venture on the horizon a league of the indoor variety which includes Oklahoma City as a charter member.
The Southwest Indoor Soccer League, known as the SISL to acronym buffs, is the brainchild of Francisco Marcos, owner and operator of Soccer Management International an agency that represents a few players from the Major Indoor Soccer League.
After a year of bouncing the idea of a new league around, mostly off his soccer colleagues, Marcos' dream has become reality. As a result, Oklahoma City, along with Amarillo, Lubbock and Garland, Texas, and Albuquerque, N.M., have formed the beginning of what could some day be a "minor league-type" feeder system for the MISL.
At the local end of the SISL is Chico Villar, new part owner of the Oklahoma City Warriors and a man who has successfully owned and operated an indoor soccer arena on the city's west side for more than two years.
Villar first caught wind of Marcos' intentions in October when Marcos was shopping the idea around to arena owners throughout the Southwest. After discussions with Allen Totten and others at the arena, the figures finally fell into place for Villar and the Warriors were born in November.
The SISL is not actually a professional league which may be its best attribute. The franchise rosters include an array of current or former collegiate soccer players, former professional players and some who have honed their skills by playing in club leagues.
Because of the college players' status, no salary is paid in order for them to retain their eligibilty. SISL players are only compensated for expenses. In place of monetary rewards, though, players get a chance to showcase their talents and play the game they love.
Besides handling the Warriors administrative duties, Villar does double duty as head coach and scout. He handpicked a team that has a definite local flavor. Two players on the roster, Steve Myers and Michael Hardesen, have had previous professional experience with the Tulsa Roughnecks and the Stampede, respectively. Southern Nazarene University's successful soccer program is represented by assistant coach Ken Jones, along with players Fitzroy Scott and Mychal Cook.
Also, three Oklahoma Christian College students, Tim Bevins, Kerry Hees and William Rhodes, dot the Warriors roster.
"We have the best players in Oklahoma City," Villar says, "they are the cream of the crop."
Marcos' reasons for forming the SISL are two-fold: (1) To eventually serve as a developmental league for the MISL, and (2) to help local indoor soccer arena owners-operators drum up interest for indoor soccer in their cities.
"I have had informal talks with the MISL," Marcos says. "Of course, they don't want to jump into any committments before they see how things go in our league."
Marcos' vision of a MISL-SISL arrangement is similar to the one that currently exists between the Continental Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association.
"Besides being an area where MISL teams can look for future talent," adds Marcos, "I've devised a set-up where a current MISL player can be sent to play on one of our teams just to get some extra playing time." Marcos' plan provides that any MISL player sent down must remain on an SISL roster for four games or 21 days whichever comes first.
In reaching these goals, Marcos is promoting a conservative approach to building fan interest, one that is commendable since most fly-by-night sports leagues have fallen flat on their faces usually being tripped up by bad financial planning and undeserved, self-manufactured hype.
"While talking to prospective owners, I stressed the fact that they should have their teams play in their own, smaller soccer arenas," Marcos says, "instead of playing in front of thousands of empty seats in the larger, high-rent civic centers. I think we (SISL) would be traveling down a (financial) "death road' if we played in the larger, downtown arenas."
To get the league rolling, a $2,000 entry fee was required from each franchise to help Marcos structure the framework of a league office in Dallas. He then set out to publicize the league's birth.
The expansion seed is also being planted with groups in Tulsa, Houston, Wichita and Austin.
"I have talked to interested groups in each of those cities," Marcos says. "We would like to eventually expand to 12 teams."
The league, which will play a 20-game schedule through February, actually began action the weekend of Dec. 13-14. The Warriors traveled to Garland (a Dallas suburb) to open their season, but played before small crowds (about 100 fans per night) as they lost to the host Genesis 10-4 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.
The Warriors opened their home schedule this past weekend by splitting a doubleheader with the Amarillo Challengers, losing 3-2 on Saturday night and then reversing the same score against the Challengers on Sunday afternoon. After a trip to Lubbock on Jan. 10-11 to play the Lazers, the Warriors will be back for two consecutive weekends to host Lubbock on Jan. 17-18 and the Albuquerque Outlaws on Jan. 24-25.
For Oklahoma City Warriors indoor soccer ticket information, call 942-1717. BIOG: NAME:Archive ID: 291620