On Friday, Sporting Wichita was named as the Sporting Club Network Member of the Year, presented by Price Chopper.
The award was one of nearly a dozen presented at Pitch Black, Sporting KC’s annual awards banquet, which highlights accomplishments across the club throughout the 2023 Season.
Based in Wichita, Kansas, Sporting Wichita has grown to 55 teams and over 600 players since becoming a part of the Academy Affiliate program in 2015, and provides opportunities at various competitive levels for players aged 3 – 19.
“We have strived, since the inception of our affiliation, to grow the club and to use that affiliation to provide a structure that would benefit both our players and our coaches, and so this is really just the culmination of all of the work that we’ve done and the growth that we’ve had,” Donna Sibaai, Sporting Wichita Administrative Director, said.
Established in 2011, the SKC Youth Academy Affiliate program has grown to include 15 youth soccer clubs across seven states. The Academy Affiliate program offers player development pathway opportunities, coaching education, specialized events and experiences and unparalleled access to the professional club to players of all ages and skill levels.
Recently, the club has added accomplished Technical Director Ruy Vaz to its ranks, in addition to competing in numerous top-level leagues like Elite Club National League (ENCL) and Sporting Development League (SDL).
This year, Sporting Wichita youth teams have finished as Champions in State, Jr. State, and National Futsal Cup Tournaments, as well as amassing an impressive four Regional Championship titles.
“We’ve grown over 400% since our initial year as a club, and we’ve reached a lot of milestones and platforms – we didn’t even have a girls program when we started as an affiliate,” Sibaai said.
“We’ve now got a growing and robust girls’ program, we’ve added lots of infrastructure, coaching directors at all levels, so for us [this award] is really a recognition of all the work that we’ve done as a club to grow, and to grow in a healthy way that provides a really great development platform for our players.”
Since starting as a single team in 2002, Sporting Wichita has grown to be the premier youth club in the region and has developed a robust player development pathway leading to its semi-pro First Team, currently competing in the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL). Earlier this year, the club made an impressive run in the UPSL post-season, culminating in a trip to the UPSL National Finals.
Sporting Wichita has over a dozen former players now competing at the semi-pro level, and currently has more than 20 players on college rosters across the country.
The club prides itself on providing opportunities for local players from a diverse range of backgrounds and bringing together its families to form a community within the club.
“We are proud of who we are as a club, and being a small club also,” Daniel Fiszel, Sporting Wichita Executive Director, said.
“We stand together as a family and in our diversity. I think we were the first club in Wichita that intentionally tried to diversify our players, and we’re proud of that. If you want to play soccer, you are welcome to come to Sporting Wichita.”