Exploring Soccer Culture Part 4: Venice Beach Football Club

Venice Beach Football Club
Exploring Soccer Culture: Part 4
Ben Green
This week we swap coasts for a special feature from Los Angeles, California providing an inside look at Southern California’s blossoming football community. 

Los Angeles is filled with iconic spots and an aura of creativity is always felt within the city. It attracts ambitious talented individuals carving out their own paths and expressing themselves in a vast range of creative mediums, one being football. 

Venice Beach, the boardwalk, one of the most notorious stretches of coastline in the world, provides an unrivaled atmosphere. Known mostly for the infamous Venice Beach basketball courts courtesy of the movie ‘White Men Can’t Jump’, a new wave of street ball is rapidly emerging in the Venice Beach community. 
Tim Walsh and Dillon Chapman founded Venice Beach Football Club at the end of 2016. It has quickly blossomed into a thriving football hub for LA’s most talented creatives and ballers.  VBFC is a community-based organization focused on growing local football and providing a platform to take football back to its roots. 

Estadio de Dogtown is a concrete surface located adjacent to the basketball courts, and the home of VBFC. It’s about expression, creativity, community, and it’s free which unfortunately, is a rare commodity in modern football. 

The club has been embraced and heralded by spreading the beautiful game into a previously untapped market. Tim and Dillon have fostered relationships with the homeless residing next to the Estadio, as well as local businesses and providing boots and gear for LA’s next generation of ballers. The organic and authentic nature surrounding this community is rare, and dope to be a part of. 

On any given Sunday at VBFC pick up you can find an eclectic range of LA’s most unique football lovers, with LAFC’s team photographer, local tattooist’s, current LA Galaxy players, local artists, amongst other frequenting Estadio de Dogtown.
On March 18th VBFC teamed up with Chicago based organization TurfMapp to host an event at the Estadio de Dogtown. Focused on giving back to the Venice Community and welcoming ballers from all ages to turn up and show out.

Bleachers enclose the 5 a side pitch, DJ, and fresh VBFC merch created the necessary vibe. It was incredible energy as members of the football community and passersby filled the stands. 

Venice’s future generation took the court first as the young ballers were inspired by their surroundings. Flair and quick feet were a staple, and necessary to avoid being megged. The youngins paved the way for the adult squads, as the streetball flavor and competitive edge was crazy, making me wish I was out there doing my thing. 

LA Galaxy’s Julian Buscher and Jamaican National Team member Andrae Campbell were amongst the guest players putting their skills on display. Former prem, USMNT player, and Venice local Stu Holden came out to show some love. 

Enthusiastic people, good players, and a wavy environment encapsulated what VBFC is all about and provided a preview of bigger things to come.

Player Spotlight: Nick Santhiago

Venice native and my homie Nick Santhiago is an integral member of VBFC, and encompasses the energy of the community as he lives and breathes Futbol. 

His passion for graphic design off the court is intertwined with his game on it. Santi designed and free handed the visuals for the event onto the wall of Estadio de Dogtown providing an exquisite backdrop. 

He’s been kicking a ball ever since he can remember, hailing from rich footballing
heritage, his dad Brazilian and mother Argentinian. Born and raised in Venice,
seeing Ronaldo lift the world cup 2002 as a young child lit the fire in young
Santi’s belly and he’s never looked back. 

Growing up, Santhiago would spend his summers balling in the streets of Rio and Buenos Aires. Concrete football runs deep through his veins. 

From young Santi has seen the potential for football to flourish in the
Venice community, but never quite knew how to bring it out, until he came across
the homies from VBFC. 

His whole life, Santi would skate to the boardwalk, just him and his ball, and work on his touch and perfect his craft. He was approached by Tim and Dillon and has been riding that VBFC wave ever since. 

Santi credits the Venice courts as crucial to his development as a player and a
person, and he’s beyond grateful for what the community has given him. The
graft and grind present in Venice is immersed within him. 

Santi addresses the vibe as what really makes VBFC special: “The people come from all over and multiple creative backgrounds, artists, musicians, athletes, handymen, chefs amongst others. They all have something different to bring to the community and it’s beautiful to see. 

"It’s much more than a club, it’s a movement."

The authenticity and community present with VBFC is so unique and in a place such as Los Angeles, Santi is beyond proud to be a part of it, knowing its more than just football. Which is what it's all about.

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