By TAYLOR ROBINSON
After being denied entry into the National Premier Soccer League, the Association Football Club of Ann Arbor joined with teams out of the Oakland and Grand Rapids areas. These three teams began what is known as the Great Lakes Premier League. When other teams would simply have a “let’s try again next year” attitude, Ann Arbor decided to come up with a league of its own.
Matt Altruda works with the Bank of Ann Arbor in their marketing department. After catching wind about a soccer league starting up in the area, he wanted nothing more than to jump on board.
“When I heard about this happening, I knew it’d be an amazing community event and something I would love to be a part of,” Altruda said.
Because of his involvement with various Ann Arbor happenings, such as Sonic Lunch and the street event for the Real Madrid vs. Manchester United game at the Big House last summer, Altruda had the perfect contacts to create a leadership for the team. The management team consists of 10 Ann Arbor locals with different backgrounds truly showing community engagement.
“Everyone has their own special talents coming together,” Altruda said. “We’re kind of like a transformer all linked together, and it’s been working.”
Rishi Narayan, co-founder of Underground Printing and co-owner of the team has contributed by providing uniforms for the players. Because of his assistance, the team will be looking sharp and professional.
BTB Burrito co-founders Justin Herrick and Adam Lowenstein are part of the ownership group as well. Assisting with the team’s promotion and marketing are Pakmode Media and Marketing co-founders Bilal Saeed and Tim Adkins.
Knox Cameron, former University of Michigan soccer player is co-owner for AFC Ann Arbor and on the roster for the team.
Jamey Amrine holds co-founder and co-owner positions. Not only does Amrine have experience owning businesses in the Ann Arbor area, he’s a fan of soccer and has experience in the sport.
“We want the game days to be more than a soccer game,” Amrine said. “The soccer game is central, but we want it to be an experience and a festival kind of atmosphere.”
The ownership group wouldn’t be complete without head coach, David Heberstreit and assistant coach, Nate Stovall For the last 36 years, soccer has been Heberstreit’s sport of choice.
After coaching in the NPSL last year for the Michigan Stars, he thought he was out of that area for the moment.
However, after being contacted by Amrine in late fall 2014, Heberstreit accepted the opportunity. With the team’s first game coming up on May 1, the league has moved quickly in preparation.
“The leadership group is absolutely educated, motivated and unique,” Heberstreit said. “Each one of them has brought something different to the table that has just made this thing move and go and go. It’s really cool to be a part of.”
AFC Ann Arbor has already been contacted by other teams in the area for next year’s season. The league currently consists of five teams and could expand by another 12-15 teams by next year.
Games will take place at Holloway Field across from the U-M stadium.
To check out the team’s schedule and roster visit afcannarbor.com