The West Fargo Soccer Club has been finding ways to step out of its comfort zone to ensure everyone in the area that wants to be actively involved can be.
The club has been working to help local new Americans - young athletes originally from Somalia, Nepal and other places around the world where soccer is the preeminent sport - with whatever they need to register and participate in the club in terms of finances, transportation and anything else necessary.
"The club had to change," director of coaching Danny Dougherty said. "We expect one thing, but have to consider another. We expect everything to be picture perfect - where we put our registration out there and everyone signs up and has fun - but not everybody can sign up. Something's wrong with that."
Dougherty, in his third year with the West Fargo Soccer Club, noticed several hurdles for new American students to register and is working along with the club's board of directors to make the process go more smoothly.
"The biggest stumbling blocks are money and transportation," Dougherty said. "Either it is too much money, or commitment or timeframe is too much for them. There wasn't enough give. It's up to the board and myself to try and find community leaders and get everything formulated into an actual program."
The initiative began with the 17 athletes of the U19 "FC Packers" boys team, who competed in its first tournament four weeks ago. The club has provided transportation and waived registration fees to help their plan gain momentum.
"It is a major achievement for our club and community, so that is the direction our club is taking," Dougherty said.
While they were given the opportunity to choose any team name, the boys decided to keep it local and represent their current home town.
"I have never had a group of boys (in club soccer) say 'we want to be West Fargo,'" Dougherty said. "Everybody in the club wants to chose the name of their team - and we get some interesting names - but these guys wanted to be the Packers."
The changes for the club do not stop with their goals for new Americans.
The club will also be hosting the district Special Olympics on Sunday, August 25, at the Scheels Soccer Complex.
Soccer and Bocce include both traditional and unified teams, which are made up of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.
Hosting such an event presents many challenges for the club, not the least of which is providing an appropriate number of volunteers and training them to the qualifications of both the West Fargo Soccer Club and the Cass County Special Olympics.
"The biggest concern for me is 'do we have enough help?'" Dougherty said. "The coaches are not always soccer-oriented. They are either working with the mentally disabled or they are family members that just want to be around the kids, and they need some soccer knowledge.
"Hopefully, I can get some good help with that, but I need to get them to the field and get them trained to work with the disabled, because that is a completely different way of coaching."
Another hurdle for the club is setting the facilities up to the standards necessary for the district-wide event.
"It's a different game" Dougherty said. "They play five to a side (as opposed to the standard 11-per-side game) so the fields are smaller. We will have to fashion the fields a bit different. They will also bring in bocce, which will be played next to the soccer fields, so we will have to find flat areas and line bocce fields for them as well."
The Scheels Soccer Complex will also host the local Special Olympics on August 5.