The Story of Avila Creative Soccer
Eryck Avila would Listen to his parents, Sylvia and Peter, both Social Workers, every night at the dinner table, and that is where Avila Creative Soccer really began. “Sports are mechanisms of socialization and social integration.” That is the mentality, that is the lens, that was the nightly education from his parents and family, which helped Eryck to eventually visualize a business that would become so much more than just soccer skills training.
Over at his Grandma’s house, he and his sister Karen, along with cousins Lincoln and Jason, would always play soccer in the street. You’d even see Aunt Lisi or Grandpa Cabrera himself playing in goal. That’s why for Eryck, Avila Creative Soccer had to be much more than just a Methodology that helps kids to think, but a Sociology that helps kids feel “connected and included.” Anyone who witnesses an Avila Soccer Scrimmage quickly sees how that principle of inclusion resonates right down to the “Rules for Play” in which every member of the group must posses the ball at least once before a goal can be scored.
When Eryck was 6 years old, he was chosen for a select squad managed by a German coach, Ernest Boedner, who would focus sessions on spacing drills and tactical awareness. This fascinated Eryck, who became obsessed with the idea of triangular play. For that reason, triangles are the most prominent element in what would become the Avila Coat of Arms.
Eryck began at a young age to rate the quality of skills, not just by technique but by it’s application. Today a pass isn’t just about technique at Avila, but the conceptualization of the pass that matters. Did you switch the point of attack? Did you put the correct weight on the pass? A great passer at Avila Creative Soccer is not just someone with great passing technique, but who also makes decisions about passes that create time, space and opportunities for teammates. It must be strategic in intent and execution.
Eventually, Eryck Avila went on to travel the globe to Winterswijk Holland, did stints in London, even a tryout at Liverpool FC; and played in Buenos Aires, with help of a genius Argentine Coach, Raul Caratella. In 1994, Avila was honored to be chosen to play four World Cup qualifiers for Puerto Rico.
Avila Creative Soccer would not have become the Austin institution it is today, without deep rooted underlying commitment to helping players experience empowerment and a sense self attainment and individual creativity.
For Eryck, the breakthrough that solidified his passion to make a difference through Soccer, came while still in Argentina, when he coached a blind and visually impaired soccer team- Eryck’s first formal coaching Position. The story goes that Eryck’s team set out on 10 hr bus ride into the mountains of Córdoba for a soccer tournament specifically designed for the blind and visually impaired. Eryck had the chance to sit with each and every squad member and learn about their stories. Many of them came from humble origins and grew up only listening to soccer on the radio – without a formal way to actually experience playing.
When they reached their destination, the tournament was grand, did not disappoint by any means, and the players were very intimidated. The Soccer field was specially made for the blind and visually impaired with a wall cleverly positioned along just one sideline of the field so that the players could use the echo to know which way they were facing at all times. The special soccer ball had a whistle in it and depending on how hard it was kicked, the players could through differences in pitch, locate and control it.
It’s like they were “connected.” Many of the players could even trap the ball dead and with regular consistency. This ability fascinated Avila to no end. He was mesmerized with the idea of “feeling” the ball versus just seeing it.
It's like they were "connected." Many of the players could even trap the ball dead and with regular consistency. This ability fascinated Avila to no end. He was mesmerized with the idea of "feeling" the ball versus just seeing it.
Alas, that tournament was life changing for Eryck. His team arrived outmatched and underprepared, but this Argentine group of players had a deep pride that Eryck could see helped them rise to the occasion. Eryck’s men progressed to the semi-final in dramatic fashion, complete with a penalty kick shoot-out accompanied by tears of joy! The celebration was over the top! They treated Eryck, their coach, with incredible reverence and care like he’d never expected possible. At the time he was just in his early twenties and many of the men were in their 30’s.
This feeling of profound meaningfulness affected Eryck and he developed a deep love for coaching. He was forever changed. He understood that individual mentoring was the heart of coaching. It’s about seeing beyond someone’s limitations.
He understood that individual mentoring was the heart of coaching. It's about seeing beyond someone's limitations.
Later on, Eryck was accepted to study at the United States Sports Academy In Daphne Alabama where he completed a masters in Sports Management and would develop the Avila Paradigm, which at its core is about teaching players to maintain possession through a sense of “connectivity.”
THE AVILA PARADIGM
Eryck moved to Austin, Texas In 1996 and worked privately with young aspiring soccer players on the banks of the Colorado River, known as Town Lake. Not having money for things like cones or props, he would use the public garbage cans for goals or whatever he found strewn around. You might say the sessions were creative. Like playing on the street as a child.
It’s was grueling being out in the Texas Summer sun working with one player at a time. Though many began to show up with friends. Before he knew it, he was doing small groups and had 39 attendees.
On the side, he began to work at universities and private schools as well as the youth clubs before deciding on the final concept for Avila – which would be a brick and mortar indoor facility. So Eryck saved $1000, his parents chipped in $2000. He took an equity loan of $5000 and a business loan of $5000. With $13,000, he was able to open his first location in March 2004 on Anderson Mill Rd. It was just 1,630 square feet with high ceilings and wood floors, though he later expanded to 3,300 square feet by buying out the next door tenant’s space.
AVILA SOCCER – ANDERSON MILL
On the day of the opening, the very first parent, a soccer mom, fell asleep in the comfortable lobby while waiting for the training to end. Eryck knew that was an amazing sign that he had created a home-like environment for parents too, and that mattered.
Eryck was reminded that day of his own soccer up bringing in the pre-internet era. His mom, frantically at times, would drive him around from practice to practice (using paper maps) and his dad never missed a single game. It was like a full-time job for them. He could remember them parked, braving it in the car with folders full of paperwork they’d be doing to pass the time, all while he trained.
And something else fortuitous else happened that same day he opened those doors for business. It began to rain. It rained and rained and rained. It rained every day for more than 3 weeks straight. That ended up being a good time to check out Avila’s new indoor facility. The Soccer Gods Smiled!
Word around town was some crazy guy had put up a soccer field in a shopping center, with some new type of soft turf product. By the end of his first month Coach Avila was up to more than 80 clients that were paying!!!! He had more than doubled his outdoor patrons.
Eryck always had in mind the idea of a national franchise, and credits the greatest ideas for the development of a scalable business to the many parents of his first clients in Austin who also created so much goodwill.
Check out a list of Avila Creative Soccer’s Milestone achievements, many of them Influenced by the soccer moms and dads of Austin, Texas.