Sunday, January 30, 2011

NSR: More Alabama Breweries and New Brewing Law?

Today, I'd like to share with you something that is near and dear to me, but is NSR or not soccer related.  I've posted many times that I like my beer.  Sometimes my soccer and beer interests intermingle, but this post is all about the beer.  

I used to be the typical Amerian beer drinker, who went to the beer aisle and picked up a sixer from one of the major breweries, but then in college I took a trip to Bavaria and was hit over the head and awoken from my beer drinking slumber by how rich and flavorful beer could be.  Since then, I have sought out beer that offers more than the "flavored water" of the major brewery offerings.
In fact, when I got married, I went to the local small batch brewery in Northern Virginia and self-brewed a celebratory brew that I served at my wedding reception.  And when I moved to Alabama, one of the first things I did was join Free the Hops, a group of Alabamian beer aficionados who lobby the Alabama legislators to change the all to restrictive Alabama beer laws.  
Due to archaic laws left over from prohibition and propped up by the major breweries who were trying to prevent competition, Alabama had become a beer desert with local Huntsville brewery Olde Towne being one of the only oases.  In order to change this, FTH proposed the Gourmet Beer Law, that was passed in 2009 after three years of constant support.

Since then, Alabama has experienced a renaissance of beer culture.  In the past year alone, Huntsville has seen three new craft breweries open.  Joining Olde Towne is Straight to Ale, BluePants, and Yellowhammer.  Now, news is breaking that there will be two new Alabama breweries in Old Black Bear and Avondale joining Good People and Back Forty who have been Alabama breweries for a while. 

This is great news for Alabama beer, but still, there is work to be done in Alabama when it comes to beer and brewing.  Remember the archaic laws I mentioned above, there are a few laws in particular that precludes brewpubs and breweries from operating freely unless they meet restrictions that are anti-business and just silly.

The first is that brewpubs must be located in a historic building, in a wet county or city, in which beer was brewed prior to prohibition.  This reduces the location of brewpubs to old and decrepit buildings that are often not in ideal business locations and cuts out large swathes of the state from consideration.  Renovating these buildings and retrofitting them to include modern brewing equipment can be prohibitively costly.

The second is that brewpubs cannot package their beers for sale anywhere but inside the brewpub.  So, if you loved the beer the brewpub sells, you cannot fill up a growler or buy a six pack to take home.  Nor can you find that beer on tap at another bar.  In order to enjoy that brew, you must drink it in the brewpub.   
Brewpubs often offer tastings of their brews and beer to go.  Show above Nimbus Brewing from my recent trip to Arizona.  Unfortunately, Alabama breweries cannot offer these types of service.

In the same vein of ill logic, Alabama also restricts actual breweries from allowing brewery tours with samples of there beer or from opening tasting rooms. 

The result of these restrictions is that Alabama has exactly ZERO operating brewpubs.

In an effort to change this, FTH has proposed the Brewery Modernization Act for the 2011 legislative session.  If you'd like to join the effort to help bring brewpubs to your town, county and state, join Free The Hops and/or contact your local legislators and ask them to support the Brewery Modernization Act.  
Heck, maybe one of these future brewpubs will welcome soccer fans and become the desperately needed "Soccer Bar" that we've been looking for.  :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

NPSL Southeast Region Takes Shape With Two New Teams

It appears Rocket City United will have two new opponents on the 2011 schedule.  The Georgia Revolution will join the Knoxville Force as the region's new additions.  According to their Wikipedia page, the team will be run by the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association in the eastern Atlanta suburb of Conyers.  The page lists two head coaches and the team will play home matches at the RYSA Soccerplex with a listed capacity of 1,000. 

It appears all of the teams from the 2010 Southeast region will return.  If the region plays the standard home and away schedule against each team, RCU will play a 12 game regular season.  That makes for a busy summer of soccer in the Madison City Schools Stadium of 6 regular season home matches and the 2011 NPSL Championships.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MLS Friendly in Chattanooga on March 6th

MLS clubs New England Revolution and Columbus Crew will meet in a preseason friendly on March 6th at 4PM at Finely Stadium in Chattanooga.  Pre-ordered ticket will cost $10, while walk-up tickets will go for $15.   The Sunday afternoon match will feature the two original MLS clubs who will be training just down I-75 at the Kennesaw State Soccer Stadium in the northern Atlanta suburb.

New England is looking to rebound from an unusually weak season in 2010 finishing 13th in the league.  New England is coached by former Liverpool star Steve Nicol who says about the preseason, "I'm looking forward to seeing the guys we've brought in and I'm sure we'll do real well."  Nicol will rely on incredibly skilled and physically imposing midfielder Shalrie Joseph and veteran goalkeeper Matt Ries to lead the new players to a more successful season. 
New England's Shalrie Joseph and Columbus' Robbie Rogers will meet again in Chattanooga

Columbus (who likely have the worst logo in professional sports) had a very successful season last year finishing 5th in the league and reaching the finals of the US Open Cup where they lost to Seattle 2:1.  Columbus should come into the match in better form than New England as they will have just played in the two legged semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League against fellow MLS club Real Salt Lake.  The Crew will be lead by USMNT regulars Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, and Robbie Rogers.

Reminders: Weekend Warrior and Women's League

Weekend Warriors Registration Deadline
Registration for the Weekend Warrior tournament ends this Friday, January 28th.  Sign your team up for the traditional opening of the Huntsville adult soccer playing year.  The six a-side competition is being held at Dublin Park in Madison on February 5-6.  Check out the Southern Soccer blog for more info.

HASL Women's Division Registration
The newly formed HASL Women's Division will hold player registration drives on Thursday, January 27th 5-7 PM and  Saturday, January 29 2-4 PM at Pete's Soccer Shop.  Players will register individually and will play 10 games on Monday nights at Dublin or Palmer Park in Madison.  The fees will be $65.50 per player and that covers fields, refs, state fee, player cards, insurance and uniforms.  Check out the HASL website for more info.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Huntsville Native Called Up To Philippines National Team

Former Rocket City United player and Huntsville Native, Jason Sabio has been called up by the Philippines National Team for its upcoming Asian Football Confederation's Challenge Cup qualifier against Mongolia.  Sabio also spent time training with the Azkals in the summer of 2009 before being called up for the February 9th match.

The Philippines National Team, nicknamed the Azkals (or Streetdogs), are currently ranked 153rd in the FIFA rankings and are under new coach Michael Weiss.  The Azkals are trying to build on their recent success in last month's AFF Suzuki Cup where they beat the defending champions Vietnam.  That shock result led to a semifinal finish and resulted in the Azkals'  highest ever FIFA ranking of 150.  Wiess is looking to continue the success by exploring all player options and calling in many foreign based players of Filipino decent, including Sabio. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Feature: Pick-up Soccer Listing

You may have noticed the new link just under the PWT-blog's title bar called Pick-up Soccer Listing.  There you'll find some of the many regular pick-up games that go on all over the Tennessee Valley.
Action from the Lunchtime Soccer Pick-up Game
Right now I have listed one game each from Decatur, Huntsville and Madison.  If you know of a game, drop me a comment or send me an email with the details (when, where, skill level, and other special info) and I'll add them to the list.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Depth: HASL's Women Division

When Suzy Permar moved to Huntsville for work just over a year ago, one of the first things she did was look for a league to quench soccer thirst.  When she discovered that there were no leagues for the female player older than the age of 18 in Huntsville,  she decided that she would make it her goal to change the situation.  "I realized  that there was no women's soccer leagues or even a recognized co-ed league for women to play in.  That is why I decided to get the ball rolling on starting a women's league here." 

You'll find several women scattered across the rosters of the Huntsville Adult Soccer League, but HASL is certainly not considered a "co-ed" league.  That makes it hard for women who would like to continue to play the game they grew up loving.  "Although, I have an obvious personal interest in starting a league here in Huntsville, I am also doing it for the progression of women's sports in this area, " added Permar.

HASL has also recognized that there is a segment of the soccer playing population that isn't being served and has made it a priority to help Permar establish the league.  Permar gives HASL a lot of credit, "Jacob Noffke at HASL has really made this happen for us." 

Permar, who has quite a bit of experience as a player, coach and soccer administrator in Memphis, is looking to set up a top notch competition in Huntsville.  "HASL has agreed to include a women's program under their umbrella. So the women of Huntsville will play through that organization and register with USSF and the Alabama State Soccer Association."

Permar understands that it may take some time to build up the women's league to the heights that the existing men's league has reached.  "At this time the games will be played in Madison at Palmer Park on Monday nights.  We are going to start with a 6v6 League until we grow large enough to play 11v11."

Spring Registration dates will be next Thursday, January 27th from 5-7 and Saturday,  January 29th from 2-4 at Pete's Soccer Shop .  If you can't make it to the registration dates or you or a player you know would like more info, you can reach Suzy at

In a stroke of bad luck, Suzy will have to wait to reap the fruits of her labor.  "Unfortunately, I will be on the sidelines during the first season as I am currently recovering from a torn ACL. I expect to be back playing this summer sometime."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weekend Warriors, USA v Chile on TV?

Weekend Warriors Returns
Weekend Warrior is back!

There's still time to sign up for the 4th Annual Weekend Warriors 6-aside Soccer Tournament returns to Dublin Park in Madison on February 4th and 5th.  There will be an Open, Recreational and Womens division.
The Weekend Warriors Championship Trophy
This is tournament is always a lot of fun, and allows the weekend warriors in the area an opportunity to gently (or not so gently) ease into the spring season.

USA v Chile TV Options

Due to contractual conflicts, Saturday's 9 PM friendly between the USMNT and Chile will have no English language TV.  If you're looking to watch it you'll have to find Telefutura on your system or you can watch it online on ESPN3.  Fortunately, my Xbox has ESPN3.  So, I'll be able to see it on my TV, but you may want to make preparations.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NPSL, HASL, and New Referee Clinic

14 New Teams including Knoxville Join NPSL

The NPSL announced today that there will be 14 new teams joining the nationwide league, including a club from Knoxville, TN.  The league also announced that it has gone from a non-profit to a for profit entity.  Update:  In addition, it has been learned that NPSL teams will now have the option to become professional or to stay amateur. 
The Knoxville Force is expected to join the Southeast Region.  The team will play its home matches in the University of Tennessee's Regal Stadium that holds 3,000 spectators.  It is expected that they will take the place of Tulsa FC in the Southeast Region.  Tulsa is likely to play its 2011 in a new region to include teams from Oklahoma, Texas, and perhaps other states.

HASL Spring 2011 Set to Begin February 23rd

The Huntsville Adult Soccer League held its Captains Meeting Sunday.  There will remain 30 teams in 5 divisions for the Spring 2011 season that is set to start on February 23rd.   This season for the first time ever, there will also be a Women's Division for adult women ages 18 and up.  If you or a woman soccer player you know is interested in joining the six-aside league, contact Suzy Permar at

Give Back to the Game:  Become a Ref

There is a shortage of referees in Northern Alabama.  For years, HASL has not been able to add interested teams beyond its current number of 30 due to the lack of referees to officiate matches.  In an attempt to combat this problem, the North Alabama Soccer Officials Association is sponsoring a USSF Referee Clinic for entry-level referees (USSF Grade 8 and 9).  This is also the perfect time for all of you players who complain about the quality of referees in the area to put up or shut up.  In fact, all HASL players who sign up for the clinic will be reimbursed 50% of the certification costs once they referee 3 HASL matches!  The clinic costs $40 and will be held on January 28, 29 and 30th at the First Christian Church at 3209 Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville.  For more info, go to the NASOA website.
Update:   I've had several requests for info on other clinics being offered in Alabama from folks who can't make the NASOA clinic.  My expert in all things refereeing, Darrell Schmidt says,

"Alabama referee clinics are posted at:

Click on the link “Referee Clinic Schedule” under Related Links on the left side of the page.  Looks like there is referee clinic in February in B’ham."

Now, you have no excuses!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

HASL League Meeting, Youth Coaching

HASL Captain Meeting Tomorrow At Pete's Soccer Shop

The Spring 2011 Huntsville Adult Soccer League's Captains Meeting will be held Sunday at 2PM at Pete's Soccer Shop.  The league officers and captains will discuss the upcoming Spring 2011 season and other developments like the new Womens Division.

Youth Coaching, Where Less Is More

Steve Davis wrote a great blog post about how he has learned to be a better coach by just shutting up and letting the kids play and figure out the game by themselves.  If you're a coach, read it; learn it; do it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

USMNT in Nashville, Montgomery Soccer Complex and NPSL Meetings

USA Coming Back to Nashville
LP Field rocked the last time the US played in Nashville

The US Men's National Team will return to LP Field for the first time since the spring of 2009 when they face Paraguay on March 29th.  

Montgomery to Build Soccer Complex

Artist Rendering of the Montgomery Soccer Complex by McKee and Associates
Decatur's successful Jack Allen Soccer Complex has other Alabama cities taking note.  Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange announced plans today that it will partner with YMCA to build a multi-million dollar complex which they hope will attract the same type of tournaments that JASC has been able to attract.

NPSL League Meetings Held In Baltimore

The National Premier Soccer League is holding its annual league meetings this week in Baltimore, MD during the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's convention.

Several new teams and perhaps a new conference or two are expected to be announced.  I hope to have some of the details of the meeting for you next week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year Later: Still Helping Haiti

Today is the anniversary of the earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince in Haiti.  I thought I'd share some photos of the collection of used soccer equipment that you, the Huntsville soccer community, so graciously donated in conjunction with the Haiti Food Drive.

Drop-off at the Disaster Response Warehouse in Decatur
A few months ago, my wife and I drove the donations down to Decatur to meet the Warehouse Supervisor Ray who catalogs and readies all donations for transport to on-site locations.  We spent a few hours with Ray helping around the warehouse and got an idea of just how much help is needed in Haiti.  He was truly excited about the soccer equipment donations and thought it would be a great thing for those in need.

Warehouse supervisor Ray boxing up the balls
I'd been meaning to share these for a while now and the anniversary seemed like an appropriate time to do so.

Thank you all for your donations.