April 13, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
The Galveston Pirates have yet to play their first official National Premier Soccer League game, but it looks like the Southeast Texas team could be shaping up as a model for other organizations in the NPSL to follow.
The team already has signed up more than 20 sponsors, including Sunset Palapas as their away jersey sponsor, and has landed a three-year TV deal with Azteca 51. Other key sponsors include the Holiday Inn Resort, Dominos, Bally’s Fitness and Bay Area Sports & Orthopedics which is the team’s home jersey sponsor.
The dynamo behind the Galveston team is Brendan Keyes, a former professional player who arrived in Houston in 1986, playing for various pro and semi-pro clubs in the area. He became a coach in 1994 and holds licenses from the Football Association of Ireland and U.S. Soccer.
Keyes says landing the maker of gazebos, tikibars and the like, “goes to show how far the team has come in a very short time. The Galveston Pirates have only been around two years and this will be the first year at this level of play, but we expect to do very well this opening season."
Building the Pirates and readying them for entry in the NPSL has been Keyes’ passion for the past several months. The team has been playing a series of exhibitions against other NPSL teams, the San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League and also competing in a local league. The club’s success I the run-up to its NPSL debut has led to them being invited to participate in U.S. Open Cup qualifying through Region III, where they will compete with other Texas State Soccer Association-South clubs. If they make it through the qualifying, it will mean the NPSL has effectively earned itself an extra spot in the competition in addition to the 6.5 spots it already holds.
The Pirates will participate in qualifying April 27-29.
"This involvement at this stage is incredible for us and shows how highly we are regarded in the soccer community," said Keyes. "The end of this month cannot come soon enough for us and gives my players a lot of incentive to play at their very best in the run-up in order to try and secure a spot in the team."
Beyond the Open Cup, Keyes is very focused on where he wants to take the Pirates, and on what his goals are.
"I’m excited and looking forward to it," he said of starting the league schedule. "We’ve been getting ready by playing in another league. I know it’s a higher level than we are used to playing, but my goal is to win our division the first season."
Keyes, who has a player agent business, says he plans to field a team of experienced players with the Pirates, with the goal of moving them further on into the pros.
Charles cuttone is Executive Editor of Soccer News Net