Broad Ripple Saturday Soccer Members Are Dyed in the Wool
Photographer / Travis Hinkle
The United States Postal Service isn’t the only organization comprised of people willing to endure snow, rain or heat. Each Saturday, a motley crew of avid soccer players come together to play pickup games in front of Northview Middle School on Westfield Boulevard – any time of the year.
The Broad Ripple Saturday Soccer group initially formed in 2002 when a team named Premium Blend decided they needed practice before a Sunday game. They were joined by another local team, Hoosier Daddy. Matt Flett joined the ragtag bunch in 2004 after moving to the U.S. from London, England.
“When I moved here, my fiancée at the time had a housemate who played pickup soccer in Broad Ripple Park,” Flett says. “He asked me to come out and play, but I quickly realized in certain weather conditions people weren’t showing up to play.”
Flett wanted to help solve the missing-player problem by organizing the group online. He turned to social media. In 2008 Flett created a Broad Ripple Saturday Soccer page on Facebook to effectively communicate and organize who would show up and where.
“It escalated quickly,” Flett says. “We would communicate through the page about who was playing and where. We play pretty much year round. Now it’s grown to over 931 members. We don’t see that many people on any given Saturday, but we do see a large turnout.”
In 2008 the group moved from Broad Ripple Park to the area in front of Northview Middle School. Each Saturday participants show up at 10 a.m., and are encouraged to bring a light and a dark shirt. This helps to determine teams quickly. Flett says the group is very popular with out-of-towners and new Indianapolis residents.
Arman Amirhamzeh is originally from Tehran, Iran. He moved to the U.S. at the age of 14, and lived in the metro area of Washington, D.C., before moving to Greensboro, North Carolina, his junior year of high school. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before graduating and eventually moving to Indianapolis in 2003. He joined the soccer group that year.
“When I first moved to Indy in 2003, I met some soccer guys who asked me to join their adult rec team named Hoosier Daddy,” Amirhamzeh says. “Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. were supposed to be our weekly practice, but now the rest is history. I joined because I love soccer. It’s my passion and lifelong hobby. I joined to play and have fun.”
Both men say the group is open to anyone who has a love for the sport. They both have made lifelong friends while playing each Saturday.
“I love this group because we have all become close friends over the years,” Amirhamzeh says. “It’s a very diverse and international group full of awesome and very interesting people. This is a really good group of people who love to play a beautiful game and have fun. We have just about every nationality with over 12 different languages spoken, and we even have quite a few female players as well.”
Even those without social media are encouraged to reach out if they want to play. Flett says many members communicate through text or WhatsApp. There is no cost to join the group, and playing is always free.
“Everyone in the group has a passion for the game,” Flett says. “Many of us grew up playing street soccer. It wasn’t really organized or a club sport. That’s why we love playing pickup games so much. Some of the original members still come out and play.”
For more information, find the Broad Ripple Saturday Soccer group on Facebook.