Soccer complex rises in South Weber farmland as new home for La Roca

Tuesday , July 11, 2017 - 12:27 PM

BRIAN WOLFER/Special to the Standard-Examiner

La Roca coach Felipe Diaz gets his team ready for the up coming season. The team hosts Soccer tryouts for La Roca program that is based in Northern Utah that is now an academy. At Ellison Park in Layton on Thursday June 2, 2017.

RYAN COMER, Standard-Examiner Staff

SOUTH WEBER — Kelly Parke is amazed by how much soccer has grown in popularity in the United States. Major League Soccer continues to expand and he can easily watch English Premier League matches.

He can tell a player he coaches to play the position of Andrés Iniesta, who plays for FC Barcelona and Spain’s National Team, and the player will know that means central midfielder.

Parke is contributing to the sport’s growth in Utah in a major way. He is a partner with Elite Training Centers, a group of four individuals who have purchased 24 acres of land in South Weber for construction of a $4 million soccer complex for Layton-based club soccer team La Roca.

Parke has been designated the director of facilities. La Roca will lease the complex from Elite Training Centers.

> La Roca joins US Soccer's girls development academy program; teams finalized

“Clubs typically have a facility in other parts of the world, or a central location that brings the club together,” Parke said. “That hasn’t ever been the case, really, in Utah, at least. There’s a few clubs that have small facilities here and there, but for the most part, everyone’s scattered.

“The idea is mainly just to bring the entire club together to make it more of one unit.”

The complex will be named La Roca Park, said Adolfo Ovalle, the club’s technical director. It will be located at approximately 128 E. South Weber Drive, according to a transcription of a South Weber City planning commission meeting held in August 2016.

It will include one full-size indoor field (100 yards by 60 yards) and two full-size outdoor fields. The indoor field will be synthetic turf while the outdoor fields will have natural grass.

The plan is to utilize the outdoor fields for home games played by La Roca’s girls development academy teams starting in Fall 2018, Parke said. The teams will play this upcoming season at Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City.

Parke said the land has limited use because it is in Hill Air Force Base’s noise zone, but the city determined it could be zoned for commercial recreation. He said the plan is for construction to be completed by Oct. 1 and ready to use in the winter.

Parke has been coaching for La Roca for about eight years. He is also the head girls soccer coach at Fremont High School and the general manager at Smith & Edwards.

The complex is another indication of La Roca’s growth since Ovalle established it in 2005 with 25 teams. The club now includes 120 teams, more than half of which are in Weber and Davis counties, and coaches from more than 20 different countries. Last year, La Roca was accepted into U.S. Soccer’s Girls Development Academy, bringing greater national exposure to select players. 

The club recently teamed up with Arsenal Futbol Club, which competes in the English Premier League. The agreement was made possible because of a partnership La Roca has with Puma and allows for La Roca players and coaches to take part in training and development programs.

The new facility fulfills a dream Ovalle has had since he established La Roca.

“We could have never done it by ourselves,” Ovalle said. “The business level we work in doesn’t allow us to have this type of investment, unless you are lucky to have someone like Kelly that is willing to believe in us.”

Contact Standard-Examiner sports reporter Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanComerSe and on Facebook.