For years, Luis Omar Tapia has lent his voice to the game of soccer. Now, he plans to lend his expertise to Cape Coral's premier soccer club in hopes of bringing it to the next level.
The Cape Coral Hurricanes, a team in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a fourth-division U.S. Soccer League with 78 teams nationwide, announced Tapia as a new part-owner of the team during a press conference Friday at the Hampton Inn in Cape Coral.
Local dignitaries, including several city council members, were present at the event as Tapia was introduced and the plan unveiled to put Cape Coral on the map as a soccer hotbed beyond the high school level.
Tapia, who will serve as senior vice president of international business development, said he was introduced to the Hurricanes and general manager J.P. Terrasi by a friend who worked in youth soccer.
"We talked about similar ideas and goals and the imaginations we had and it all clicked," Tapia said.
Tapia's involvement is only one tip of the iceberg in regards to some "game-changing" goals management has in store this season, which includes new coaches and playing in a brand new conference.
Having Tapia on board, who spent two decades announcing games on TV including five World Cups, is definitely a move in the right direction, Terrasi said.
"I feel blessed to come from our beginnings four years ago, which was just an idea, and expand it to the people we have today and the community that has embraced us," Terrasi said.
Tapia's immediate goal is to make sure the team doesn't finish last. As far as down the road, the sky is the limit.
"I want to push them to be winners. The long term is the possibility of joining the NASL or the USL at the pro level," Tapia said. "We can make our dreams and ambitions happen."
"Lee County can support a team. Absolutely. With the people we have here and the amount of passionate soccer people here, we can," Terrasi said. "You can see it every Saturday night and see how many leagues are playing. There is support for teams like this."
Also introduced at the news conference was new head coach Roy Hill, who played professionally in England, Liam Farrell, his assistant, who was not present at the meeting, and Jeff Varner, director of operations.
The team also announced partnerships with Hampton Inn, which will house visiting teams when they come to town, and cut a ribbon with ownership and members of the city council.
The Hurricanes, formed in 2012, will play in the South Region in the newly formed Sunshine Conference in 2014 along with teams from Miami, Tampa, Puerto Rico, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale. The conference is expected to expand next season to include teams in Orlando and Boca Raton.
The Hurricanes kick off their season Saturday at 3 p.m. when it holds a pre-season scrimmage against Inter United Soccer Academy at Pelican Field.