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SD Sockers, Cardiff Sockers’ partner, break ground on new arena

Cardiff Sockers
Cardiff Sockers President Chris Perry, SD Sockers player and Cardiff Sockers Younger Boys Director Ray Reza, SD Sockers Captain and Cardiff Sockers Executive Director Kraig Chiles, Cardiff Sockers Head Coach Anthony Medina, SD Sockers Player and Cardiff Sockers Head Coach Eddie Velez, SD Sockers Captain and Cardiff Sockers Specialty Trainer Brian Faber and Cardiff Sockers Vice President Shad Butte at the groundbreaking.
(Courtesy)

On May 20, the San Diego Sockers held a ceremonial groundbreaking for their future home, Arena CaliFino in Oceanside. The indoor sports arena now under construction at El Corazon Park is expected to be in full operation for the 2023 soccer season. Along with soccer, the 171,291-square-foot arena is designed to host hockey, basketball and volleyball, as well as concerts.

This unique North County venue will also be a place to grow the game with the Sockers’ youth affiliate partner the Cardiff Sockers.

Formerly the Cardiff Mustangs, the club became the Sockers about six months ago—the new partnership with the 15-time Major Arena Soccer League champions was unveiled during team tryouts in January. Along with the name change, the club was re-branded in the Sockers’ blue and yellow team colors.

According to Kraig Chiles, captain of the San Diego Sockers and the executive director of the Cardiff Sockers, the two clubs have been intertwined for the last several years.

“It’s just a cool relationship between a lot of really good people,” Chiles said. “It’s an opportunity to come together to give a little more to the kids in the community”

The merger was not financially-driven in any way and there was no change in leadership, Chiles said, it just gives the top players in the region a chance to train like the pros, learn from the pros and take that next step forward in their soccer careers.

Cardiff Sockers players in the club gain access to “some pretty cool perks” including access to the Sockers gym and the training and treatment staff, which Chiles said is the best in the country. When not in use, players will also be able to use the Arena CaliFino for practices, scrimmages or games.

The connection with the Sockers started about eight years ago when then-Cardiff Mustangs board member Dan VanDyck asked Chiles to sign a ball for his son’s birthday at a Sockers game. Chiles obliged and VanDyck followed up afterward with an email asking him to come out to some of the club’s clinics. After that invite, the following year Chiles coached two Mustangs teams. He was officially hooked (and he is now VanDyck’s son’s coach).

Several Sockers players serve as coaches in the youth program which has over 700 boys and girls ages 4 through 18, about 400 in the competitive program and about 300 recreational players.

“Honestly, it’s super rewarding to watch some of the young players grow up into legit soccer players and people in their own right,” Chiles said of the lofty responsibility he has a coach to mentor the kids on and off the field.

As several coaches like Chiles still actively play, they are really relatable to the young players especially when they can catch a Sockers game,—“I feel like the kids really, really enjoy being able to say ‘That’s my coach’,” he said.

During the week, his expectations of his players are high and he expects them to work their socks off: “When I play I better put my money where my mouth is,” Chiles said. As many times as he tells them to shoot to the back post, he better show it to them come game time.

“It’s a blessing and I know it won’t last forever so I kind of cherish it,” said Chiles, 37.

Chiles said he is fortunate to have been able to make a career out of soccer. After playing in the MLS for Chivas USA and in Los Angeles with the USL Premier Development League, he briefly worked in real estate before having the opportunity to join the Sockers in 2009. Last year he signed a new three-year contract.

He has played with the team at their Del Mar Fairgrounds and Pechanga Arena (formerly known as San Diego Sports Arena) homes and spent last year’s championship season playing all 17 games on the road due to pandemic restrictions in California.

“It’s good to be back home,” Chiles said. “I’m looking forward to stepping into the new arena and being one of the few players in the organization that’s been able to carry the torch from Del Mar to the Sports Arena and to Oceanside.”

To learn more about the Cardiff Sockers and upcoming camps and clinics, visit cardiffsockers.org


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