Semi-professional Stockton FC caters to footballing needs in Stockton

The highest level of outdoor football in Stockton rose from the concrete in 2018, built on a base of homegrown talent and an ambition to showcase the town.

“Our big thing with Stockton FC is just to improve the experience for these boys,” said Chris Hernandez, chairman and coach of Stockton FC, explaining why he founded the club. “I don’t want these boys to experience football like me.”

The third year semi-professional football club is a member of the United Premier Soccer League. The team includes players ages 17-27 from across San Joaquin County and East Bay.

The team’s slogan “The Club From Concrete” plays on Tupac Shakur’s poem, a poem that Hernandez says embodies Stockton’s persevering nature. “I’m a huge Tupac fan,” Hernandez said. “Pac represented a great deal of Californian arrogance and determination.”

18-year-old striker Edson Justo dribbles down the pitch during Stockton FC's Week 1 match against Merced United on March 12.

Determination has been key for Hernandez and his front office of around eight others, as they try to open doors for young players – doors that weren’t as easily accessible for Hernandez when he was starting out in the game. sport. SFC connects players with college programs and overseas teams while developing their talent.

The club was just the outlet Edson Justo, one of Stockton FC’s youngest players, needed to elevate his skills. It posed a challenge to play among and against players who have more experience under their belt.

SFC sit fifth in the NorCal South Premier Division with a record (0-2-3) still seeking their first win of the season. Joseph “Yoyo” Mayorca leads the team in all-time scoring with 37 goals since the team’s inception. Justo is also one of the club’s attacking weapons, scoring his only goal against the MCSC Jaguars on March 26.

“It feels good knowing someone my age can keep up with them, but it definitely takes a little bit longer,” Justo said. “You definitely have to put in more work than the others to get to this point, but it feels good. It’s a lot of fun for me, personally.

Between school, financial responsibilities and Stockton FC, Justo has been balancing the majority of the season. At 18, he sticks to his routine with the club at the top of his priority as he pursues his dreams of playing professionally or following the collegiate route.

As well as preparing players for the next level of football, Stockton FC provides space for young players to find their place in the world of football. Ramses Chavez, 21, who has been with the club since the team’s first trials, has discovered his passion for coaching.

After initially wanting to turn professional, Chavez saw the impact he had as a leader on the team and all he had to offer outside of the game.

Chavez said he sees his coaching role as more than just teaching football.

“I feel like you could give them life lessons through football. And I feel like personally, I almost have a responsibility to be able to pass that knowledge on to other people who don’t have not this knowledge.

"The concrete club" seems to be a community catalyst for aspiring footballers in Stockton and the greater San Joaquin Valley.

Chavez splits his time between Stockton FC and Chico, where he has already embarked on his goal as assistant coach of the Chico State club soccer team. His involvement with the team opened his eyes to how the club could impact young people in the community, as it did for him and other team members.

“It keeps us out of trouble and it also makes us disciplined with the system we have there,” Justo said. “If you want to achieve every football player’s goal of becoming a pro, that makes you stay on your toes and make sure you put in that work to get there.

Stockton FC are not as established in the community as Hernandez would like, but their inroads into the city’s sports market and community radar.

Growing its fan base through Instagram, changing its home game venue from Say Soccer Complex to Edison High School, and gaining the support of around five sponsorships this season are some of the ways the club continues to improve. It’s never easy to start something from scratch, but who better than “Club From Concrete” to be up for the challenge.

“What I love about football is that your community makes you,” Hernandez said. “Your community builds the team and you depend on people coming out and supporting you.”

Record journalist Shannon Belt covers the sport. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShannonBelt3. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at

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