Idaho is a US state located in the northwestern area on the border with Canada. It is rich in natural beauty and resources, and in recent years it has been experiencing a demographic expansion that could, or could not, favor the development of soccer.
We interviewed Paul Scherer, president of the Idaho State Soccer Association (ISSA).
When and how is Idaho Soccer Association born? What is the passion that inspires the associates?
People were playing in the 1970’s and then we started the Idaho State Soccer Association in the 1980’s. Love of the game is the passion we all share!
What is the history of soccer in Idaho?
We started off with several adult teams that were not affiliated but played at a very competitive level then the youth started a competitive league and eventually went into the recreational leagues as well.
How many people play soccer in your state?
Youth and adult registered players are about 25,000 (the State has over one million seven hundred thousand inhabitants, editor’s note) but there are several unaffiliated leagues and teams playing
How many teams, clubs, schools and universities that play soccer exist? What are the most important tournaments?
There are several teams in our affiliated adult leagues and we have soccer in the schools and universities. We offer an Idaho State Soccer Association State Cup and we have a very good tournament in Boise the first week in June each year, The “Paul Scherer Adult Invitational Tournament“.
Idaho Wolves were founded in Idaho Falls in 2004. They participated in one NPSL season, then retired. What memories do you have of that experience and why did it fail?
It was a good try but under funded and there were few local players which did not help create a good fan base. Also it was started in a smaller community and the attendance was just too low to support the indevor.
Is Idaho State ready to host a USL team? In which cities and countries is soccer most loved? Are there any ethnic groups in the state more related to soccer?
We have a large Hispanic population that loves the game.
What are your biggest difficulties to encourage soccer?
Fields are an issue as well as good qualified referees.
And what are your strengths?
We have a good strong State Association.
Idaho is experiencing a period of strong demographic expansion, thanks to the excellent quality of life. Many people are moving to Boise and the rest of the state, especially people from California. How much can this factor favor soccer?
It will take some time but it could be significant. The reality is that most moving here are retirees not the younger folks.
What do you think about the introduction of promotions/relegations between USL Championship and League One?
I like it and would like to see the MLS do the same.
MLS is presenting the new cities for the next expansion. There will probably be no other entries for ten years. Can the city of Boise be a future candidate?
We do not have the population base to support a team yet.
Which were and which are currently the most important footballers coming from Idaho?
We have had several players make our US Amateur team and we have a young lady that has earned several caps (Sofia Huerta, editor’s note) on the US Women’s National team.
How important is it for the development of soccer to be close to Cascadia, a place with a strong vocation for soccer, and to Canada?
For WA state soccer I think it really helps them but not so much us here in Idaho.