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Demba Ba visits San Diego to announce stadium location and GM

The club also announced it is finalizing a lease with SoCal Sports Complex at El Corazon Park in Oceanside as the team’s permanent home venue.
Photo credit:
Populous Group

Capping off a week of spirited engagement with local communities from across the region, Demba Ba announced today that long-time soccer coach and player development specialist Alexandre Gontran will lead San Diego’s 1904 Football Club as General Manager and Head of Football Operations.

The club also announced it is finalizing a lease with SoCal Sports Complex at El Corazon Park in Oceanside as the team’s permanent home venue.

“The beautiful game is about trust and instinct. There are not many people I trust more than Alex,” said Demba Ba, who was groomed by Gontran the past 15 years. The two met in 2003 when Ba was 16. Gontran developed Ba into a world-class athlete who fulfilled his dream of signing a professional contract with European giant Chelsea Football Club in 2013.

Gontran began coaching in 1988 and brings more than 25 years of player development experience to 1904 FC. With a proven specialty of training young athletes on and off the pitch during their most formative years, Gontran is excited about the opportunities San Diego presents.

“To build a professional football club means great responsibility,” said Gontran, who for months has spent his weekends evaluating youth soccer players of all ages across the county.

“This opportunity is not about me, this is about the footballers of our community. This club will produce players that show the world our potential in San Diego. And there is tremendous potential here. I’ve seen many exceptional footballers, especially between the ages of 10 and 14. The talent at that level matches the best talent in the world.”

Though unable to attend the press conference due to playing commitments overseas, international football stars Eden HazardYohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow also have invested in the club and know Gontran personally.

“It’s an honor to work with all of these guys,” team president Bob Watkins said. “They know soccer inside and out. I’m looking forward to watching them develop winning talent. The whole region is going to rally around this team because we’re going to win a lot of matches, we’re going to instill confidence in young athletes and we’re going to help them achieve their dreams on and off the field.”

Competition for 1904 FC is slated to begin on March 31, 2018 in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Home matches will be hosted at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus in Mission Valley.

Upon completion of a stadium that will seat roughly 10,000 fans at the SoCal Sports Complex in Oceanside, 1904 FC will move operations to the North County site for the start of their 2019 season.

The Honorable Jerry Kern, Councilmember from the City of Oceanside, attended the press conference to announce his support of the club’s choice for future stadium location. The SoCal Sports Complex is host to over 20 annual weekend competitions that draw tens of thousands of youth soccer families from all across the world to San Diego each year.

“Oceanside is proud to welcome 1904 FC,” Kern said. “El Corazon Park has quickly become a soccer destination and adding professional soccer to the mix is a very big deal for the park and the city. This team will draw fans from all over the world to our corner of the globe.”

Lu Snyder also spoke at the press conference. Snyder is the owner and assistant coach of the San Diego WFC SeaLions, a women’s soccer team founded in 1988.

“Soccer is taking off in San Diego and this is some of the best evidence of that,” Snyder said. “The SeaLions welcome 1904 FC to our great city with open arms! I am personally excited because this ownership group is built of true football minds and hearts. San Diego is lucky to have these quality coaches and athletes here to help develop our youth players and elevate the game of soccer in our community.”