RINCON — After having the South Georgia Tormenta FC Women spotlight shine on her for a spell, Abbigale Akins turned it back in the fledgling team’s direction.
In June 2021, Tormenta FC, based in Statesboro, was named a founding member of the USL W League, an elite pre-professional pathway for women looking to build their careers on and off the pitch. The club will kick off its inaugural season in May and end with the W League Playoffs and W League Final in late July.
“Having a local pre-professional women’s team means a lot to me because you don’t see a lot of women’s teams in our area, and they can be an inspiration to so many players, including me,” Akins said. “It’s going to be an amazing addition to Tormenta FC.”
A 13-year-old Ebenezer Middle School student, Akins was profiled on the team’s website in a segment called “Empowering the 912.” The story (https://www.tormentafc.com/news_article/show/1202462) showcases Akins’ soccer experiences and her thoughts about the Tormenta FC Women and her Tormenta Academy participation.
Tormenta FC Academy, which has multiple leagues for boys and girls, is the only youth soccer club in South Georgia and the Lowcountry with a direct path to a professional team. It features various playing levels and programs specifically designed to improve players season to season and year to year based on individual player commitment and dedication levels.
“It’s exciting to know that we have these female role models in the community because you can go watch them in person and learn from what they’re doing on the field and then maybe even one day be able to play alongside them,” Akins said.
According to Torment FC Director of Communications Bernadette O’Donnell, the academy serves thousands of boys and girls.
“Something great about it is that there is a team or a program for everyone,” she said.
“I switched to Tormenta FC Academy in 2018 because my confidence was struggling at my other club, and I thought that Tormenta could help me with that,” Akins said.
Akins’ mother, Georgia, has no doubt that Tormenta FC Academy elevated her game.
“Tormenta has no clue how great they have been for Abbi and her confidence as a player,” she said. “Abbi was always the shy kid on the field that didn’t believe in herself until we made the switch to Tormenta a few years ago. Tormenta is an amazing club, and we’re so happy we found it.”
Tormenta FC co-owner Netra R. Van Tassell is excited about what the addition of a women’s pre-professional team will mean to her organization.
“This is a significant moment for Tormenta FC as a club, the female athletes in our region and the overall growth of the women’s game, so we’re thrilled to have this new team under our umbrella” she said. “Our club has proven female talent in South Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and looks forward to keeping that talent local and inspiring female athletes in the surrounding area.”
USL Director of Women’s Soccer Betsy Haugh has high expectations for the W League.
“Our goal for the W League is to use women’s soccer as a force for societal good by creating a national platform to increase opportunity, gender equity and career development,” she said. “We’re expecting to have as many as 30 clubs for our inaugural season, which would provide upwards of 750 new opportunities to play, work and coach in the women’s game. We’re very excited about what the future holds.”
Tormenta FC is one of the only soccer clubs across the nation to field a team in every level of the United Soccer League — USL League One, League Two, W League and USL Academy.
South Georgia Tormenta FC kicked off a men’s team in 2015, starting with pre-professional League Two. Now it also has a professional League One squad that will join the W League team by playing at new 5,300-seat Optim Health System Stadium. Previously, Tormenta games were played at Georgia Southern University.
“We plan to put on a show anytime a team visits Statesboro, knowing we hope to capture a championship in the new facility come October,” Tormenta FC League One head coach Ian Cameron said. “Our opening two fixtures see us pitted against opponents with very different game models. NCFC has a little bit of MLS modeling in their structure, adding academy talent into the mix with experienced pros, while Omaha is solely in the business of winning championships. With both games to be played at home, we aim to get wins on the board early and build a platform for our championship campaign.
“The variety of opponents in this league remains key to the development of our players, making it a fertile landscape for our academy and college graduates to cut their teeth in proper professional matches and atmospheres.”
The USL League One season begins in April and ends with the playoffs and final in late October and early November.
Men’s tryouts are slated Saturday at The Clubhouse Fields at 2704 Old Register Road in Statesboro from 10 a.m.-noon and 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Registration costs $75 online (https://www.tormentafc.com/trials) or $100 in person.
To learn more about Tormenta FC, visit https://www.tormentafc.com/.