The Alabama native and former Vestavia standout has always dreamed of playing in Europe. Now that he has that opportunity, he can’t wait for his chance to give it his all. Even if it does mean learning a new language. It’s Tuesday, October 4 and 19-year-old Stephen Payne is less than a week away from flying halfway across the world to start a new life. The former BUSA, Vestavia, and UCLA standout is busy signing paperwork, packing his bags, saying goodbye to family and friends, and brushing up on his Portuguese. Come Monday morning, the Birmingham native will officially be…

Two days at the State Cup prove that Alabama is gaining ground in the Southeast when it comes to exceptional soccer and increasingly skillful players. It’s mid-morning on Saturday, November 12, and games are well under way at the Alabama Soccer Association State Cup in Foley, Alabama. The action is taking place for the first time at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex, a state-of-the-art, 16-field facility just a stone’s throw from the beaches of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. It’s an unseasonably warm, sunny day with high temperatures in the low 80s. In other words, it’s perfect soccer weather (a fact this…

Long-Awaited Semi-Pro Soccer Club Launches In The ‘Ham One need only take a drive around Birmingham to understand the city is smack in the middle of a serious renewal. Everything from funky new restaurants, public parks, bike paths, and baseball stadiums are springing up like dandelions in the front yard. Fortunately for Birmingham, a group of young, energetic, civic-minded, and possibly insane, soccer fans has put their passion to work bringing a high-level soccer team to the Magic City — the Birmingham Hammers. As the newest members of the National Premiere Soccer League (NPSL), a semi-pro league with more than…

Alabama native Chandler Hoffman has been turning heads and opening eyes since he was in grade school. Now he’s putting Alabama on the soccer map one goal at a time. Alabama’s soccer community has heard for decades how far behind the rest of the country we are in developing soccer talent. Of course, there is some truth to that. After all, when 100,000 people will show up for a glorified college football scrimmage each spring, it can be hard for the other kind of football to break through. There has been progress, though. One only needs to look at the…