As the whistle blew to end the championship game of the second season of OnThePitch League, founders Carlos Galvez and Joshua Gonzalez rushed to greet the winning Xperience Futbol team with a sleek silver trophy, T-shirts and champagne.
Just like professional soccer matches, fans milled around the pitch, members of the winning team high-fived their opponents and fans celebrated.
“It feels really good to have won today,” said Miles Whiting, the championship game’s MVP. “A lot of people doubted us, but in the end, we got it done
OnThePitch is a small-sided, six-a-side soccer league that plays its matches at Killian Greens Park, 9950 SW 104th St, in Kendall.
The league was co-founded in June 2021 by Galvez, an FIU student who graduates this month, and Gonzalez to give players the opportunity to participate in a more formal and competitive environment than a standard pickup league.
Small-sided soccer has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the United States over recent years. It provides a faster-paced and better-organized alternative to the standard 11 vs. 11 matches, something that appealed to Galvez and Gonzalez.
“We had a brilliant idea from the start, but obviously it’s not just us that make it, it’s the players that make it work,” Gonzalez said. “They’re a huge part of this because, without them, we wouldn’t have this league.”
Both Galvez and Gonzalez grew up playing soccer in Kendall, and one of their goals was to bring together the sport’s community in the area. Gonzalez said that after high school, many of the players began to feel disconnected.
The pair’s goal is to make the league feel like a professional experience. Both Galvez and Gonzalez track players’ stats, take match photos, conduct post-match interviews and recap games on the league’s Instagram to give the players that feeling.
“We’ve always wanted to create a space where we can enjoy soccer and what we love doing and compete,” Galvez said. “But at the same time, we wanted to get photos and videos, something we felt the community didn’t have before. There was never this league that would give us this value and atmosphere to enjoy what we do.”
The league has grown quickly. The second season of OnThePitch, which started in September, expanded to include a women’s division. The men’s league included 22 teams and the inaugural season for the women’s had eight teams.
Galvez felt that there was a gap in the soccer community regarding exposure. Both he and Gonzalez want OnThePitch to help bridge that gap.
“Our goal and our aim was to create a community and bring more value to those playing soccer in the area,” Gonzalez said. “With the photos and the videos, we want to try and bring more value to anyone who plays soccer.”
Richard Larrieux, 23, joined OnThePitch in the first season after his former club soccer teammate and friend asked him to play in the league. Larrieux is a lifelong soccer player and played on various club teams in the area while growing up.
“We get together, we discuss games and that helps us bond and it helps the team,” Larrieux said. “It makes us reminisce on old times and it’s a really great experience.”
The sponsorships they receive from local merchants, restaurants, and businesses help the league’s growth. Companies like All Pro Restoration and Elite Rentals are some of the sponsors assisting the league to continue expanding.
“The sponsorships came together because they saw the value and the reach in what we have and what we are doing,” Gonzalez said. “We actually couldn’t have done this without the sponsors. It would have made things a lot harder.”
OnThePitch’s third season will begin next month and will include two men’s divisions and the women’s division. It costs $675 to register a team with the league, including custom-made team jerseys, referee fees and field rental costs for six league games.
For more information about OnThePitch visit their Instagram page.