David Fellerath has been playing soccer almost as long as he could tie his shoelaces. That passion hasn’t ebbed now that he’s into his 30s.
But Fellerath, who lives in Durham, sees a growing need as more adults and youth fight for playing time on limited fields, especially in the city.
The disparity prompted Fellerath to partner with his former employer, city councilman and Independent Weekly founder Steve Schewel to form the Durham Soccer Council. The council’s goal is to advocate for more soccer fields inside the city.
“Durham has an incredible shortage of soccer fields, and those that are heavily used are in the suburbs or on the outskirts of town,” Fellerath said. “Others in the urban areas are nonexistent or in bad shape, which affects Latinos and African-Americans, and middle class families that live in town.”
The DSC is pushing for the city council to allocate $15 million in its next budget to add three fields to Twin Lakes Park on Chandler Road near Southern High. The extra fields would allow an additional 3,000 to 4,000 players to participate each week.
“The good thing about soccer is everybody plays it,” Fellerath said. “If Durham had a visible and well-maintained soccer structure, it would add to its international workforce.”
While advocating for more fields, Fellerath is still getting his soccer groove on.
He and Kosta Harlan, a web developer and avid soccer player, recently formed Durham Atletico, an adult indoor futsal league.
Futsal and soccer are not the same, but they are related. Indoor soccer is the physical brother, where players jam each other up and slam the ball into the wall as hard as possible.
Futsal is the “smart” brother. Its game is more about precision passing, finesse, and honing your technique.
The game has quickly caught on for the 30-plus crowd. Since January, Durham Atletico has six teams and 60 players, and four sponsors: Bull McCabe’s, Mattie B’s, Motorco and Harbor design studio. The league plays from December to March primarily at Weaver Street Recreation Center.
“Our league has been a great success,” Harlan said. “The games are short – about an hour, including halftime – so for exercise, it’s a nice alternative to going to the gym.”
In the spring, Fellerath and Harlan participate in the outdoor over-30 soccer league run by the Orange County Adult Soccer League. But they hope to have Durham Atletico form an outdoor summer league at Campus Hills Park. Fellerath said Campus Hills is the perfect fit with an all-purpose field and lights for night playing. What it doesn’t have, however, are goals.
As one of its first fundraising projects, Durham Atletico raised $2,550 to buy two goals to donate to the park. After a two-week wait for approval, Durham Parks & Recreation was given the OK. The goals are to be installed after the spring season ends in June and will be available to all.
“Durham Atletico believes that soccer belongs to everyone,” Harlan said. “The ability to access and participate in sports is a human right; it should not be a privilege to play.”
Visit durhamatletico.com for more information.