Oakland First, Always - Oakland Roots SC
Oakland first, always.
“More than just a club, more than just a game. Oakland Roots Sports Club seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the beautiful game of soccer as a force for social good.”
When a club is generating buzz before the ink on the final crest design is barely dry, you know that good things are in the works - that a commitment has been made to build something exceptional from the ground up. Oakland Roots SC is working to do just that. With a strong dedication to the city and community of Oakland, the club is looking to create a movement that transcends soccer.
Oakland Roots is one of the eleven founding teams that will play in the inaugural season of the NPSL’s newly formed professional league beginning with the Founders Cup competition this fall. The club recently announced the signing of their first player, Oakland native Devante Dubose. Devante joins Oakland Roots SC after a successful season with USL Western Conference Champions, Phoenix Rising FC.
We chatted with Devante about the club and what his expectations are on this new endeavor.
Can you give us a little background on Oakland Roots SC?
The concept of having a professional soccer team in Oakland was started a few years ago by Benno Nagel (President and one of the founders of the club) and Edreece Arghandiwal (co-founder), both Oakland rooted and both have backgrounds playing soccer. Long story short, they built the idea into something real as they added more investors to the group. I have been an ambassador of the movement myself for two years now and even sat with Benno and Edreece in a meeting at the City of Oakland office when they were on the hunt for a site to play - seeing if the City of Oakland could be a resource for us. Fast forward to now, along with a group of owners, they’ve built something real and built it doing things the right way, the Oakland way.
Oakland Roots SC will be one of the 11 founding teams to play in the newly formed, professional NPSL league. How exciting is it to be in on the league from it’s inception?
I think it's always exciting playing in a new league let alone a new organization. However, where there is new opportunity there are new lessons that come with it. We are anxious to start and this new league gives new teams the opportunity to prove themselves - even well established organizations like the New York Cosmos and Jacksonville Armada will have a rebirth into the professional ranks.
How does it feel to be the first player signed by your hometown club? There’s obviously got to be a deep connection there for you.
The feeling is still surreal to me. I dreamed of playing at home and I thought being drafted to San jose Earthquakes in 2014 was as good as it gets, but making history in my hometown with a new organization doesn't match being drafted. Why? Being a part of something new in my hometown means being a part of something bigger than me. I get to be a part of the future of Oakland professional soccer for years to come and I get to impact my community and be an example. I also get to be a bridge to the young kids who have dreams of becoming pro soccer players in Oakland.
What struck us most when we first heard about Oakland Roots SC, is the solid community and civic engagement that the club promotes. What are some of the things you’re involved in in your local community?
We are a club that values community, so every move we make on and off the field is done with the community in mind. I represent Oakland Roots by attending many local club trainings in the Oakland Area, creating relationships with local teams and interacting with them - engaging in real discussions to provide support and encourage their dreams. It’s important not only for the kids in my community to see me as an Oakland Roots professional soccer player, but also to see me as Devante Dubose, an Oakland native that was once in the same shoes many of these kids are in. So when they see me they see that they have a chance - if I could do it, so can they. I will make sure as many of these kids as possible are in a position to be seen. I am also involved in a program called Soccer Without Borders, a non-profit program that brings international kids together using soccer. Since it’s a global community sport, Soccer Without Borders provides these international kids and their families a support system.
The club’s crest, designed by Matthew Wolff who designed LAFC’s crest and the 2018 World Cup Nigerian kit, is very striking. Can you give us a little background on what it represents?
The crest speaks volumes to what Oakland represents as a city, which is diversity and unity. The mosaic colors depict our diversity and the roots connect each color as a symbolism for unity. Then it all comes together into Oakland’s famous oak tree. Ultimately, you see growth - so it made sense to use the same symbolic tree and name, Oakland Roots. When you see our crest and those mosaic colors, you see a team and organization that stand together with the community right behind us.
How has the early reaction and support for the club been from the local community?
The reaction in the community has been enthusiastic. Sports are a huge part of the Bay Area, let alone Oakland, and with the departure of the Oakland Raiders and Warriors, that leaves a void to be filled in our community. The Bay Area is one of the most diverse cities in the US so soccer is a familiar culture here already. Bringing a professional team to Oakland was bound to happen.
What are your expectations in being a part of Oakland Roots SC?
I expect it to be the beginning of something great here in Oakland and an example to many organizations, like the Warriors are, as a model how to build a organization from the bottom up, the right way, so we have something that lasts forever.