COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Calling all soccer fans! The South Carolina United Bantams have a new home in Columbia.
The South Carolina United Bantams are part of the Premier Development League or PDL. it's a league that features 74 franchises in four conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada. It's seen in the soccer sphere as a stepping-stone for athletes hoping to play pro ball. This year, the Bantams have a brand new field this year off Monticello Road in Columbia.
"The standard of soccer player we have coming in, they're all aspiring professionals," said head coach of the SC United Bantams, Lee Morris. "And we think we could have professionals one day."
The new location is at 115 Sunset Boulevard in Columbia, just off Monticello Road and slightly north of I-20. In years past, the squad has bounced between different high school stadiums to hold matches.
Now, with their own complex to boast and a large number of international players on the squad, the club came up with the idea to host international nights for 7 home games this summer.
They're calling it "Around the World in 7 Games." With the director of the club, the head coach and many players calling England 'home,' the first night will be "British night."
"It's like a cultural thing to have a beer with a soccer game," Morris said. "And coming over here to see what you guys do with football and baseball. It's definitely in the culture here. The first night will be a British night. We'll be serving Fish n' Chips and Pie and Peas. We'll have a British style lager out there, we'll be playing British music with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones."
Morris said local vendors are partnering with the club to create a community-like atmosphere at each home game. The players are also looking forward to having a larger audience supporting them at each game.
"Making this like a community club will help this go so far," said Dan Bent, a rising senior at Wright State University in Ohio. "Not only getting fans out to our games will help us in the atmosphere, obviously the boys will be up for it. It makes that home feeling better."
Bent is originally from London.
"The club is accommodating to the international players as well which is a good thing you feel welcome," Bend said. "Hopefully it'll bring a lot of fans out, to come watch and help the boys out."
Meanwhile, current USC player and second-year Bantam teammate Benjamin Gilligan echoed that sentiment – even hoping for fans to get invested in the competitive spirit.
"It would be great if a lot of people came out and we'll get more motivation," Gilligan said. "Hopefully someone will bring a drum or something to get under the other team's skin. And we can use it to our advantage."
Gilligan scored the two game-winning goals against Peachtree City Tuesday night. You can find tickets for each game or buy a pass to Around the World in 7 Games by clicking here.
Anyone 18 and under can attend free of charge, while adults 19 years of age and older will be charged $5 for admission. You can purchase tickets online or at the complex.