By Kody Acevedo
Soccer is appearing in all shapes and sizes around the community these days. Literally.
The newest adaptation: arena soccer, but with a twist.
The folks at Joga Arena Soccer call it “indoor style soccer, outdoors.”
“We grew up playing soccer here,” said Dan Van Vleet, co-founder of the Joga concept. “There’s no
centrally located indoor soccer arena around here, so rather than starting an indoor facility, (our design) is
more portable and unique.”
Joga’s one-of-a-kind pop-up arena allows Van Vleet and the club’s founder, Josh von Allworden, to bring indoor-style soccer to any corner of the community large enough to host their arena.
Designed by von Allworden’s father, a structural engineer, the portable arena cost about $5,000.
When fully erect, it is 106 feet long by 70 feet wide, standing 8 feet tall on the ends and four feet tall on
the sides. The materials to build the arena arrived about six months ago and the final design was completed in
It takes the small staff at Joga, a Portuguese word for “play,” about 3½ hours to put together and erect before every use. “It was tough getting this ready in the summer heat,” von Allworden said. “The summertime was a lot of learning what not to do.”
Van Vleet and von Allworden have been involved with soccer in Tempe for quite some time. The two were teammates at Corona del Sol High School and won a state championship with the Aztecs in 2010.
“(Their time at Corona) was the best sporting experience I’ve had to date,” Van Vleet said. Van Vleet and von Allworden were both recruited to play at Oregon State the following year. But they returned to the Valley a few years later. Van Vleet stayed involved in the sport, picking up a coaching job at Corona; von Allworden continued his education at Arizona State University, getting a degree in Technological Entrepreneurship and
Yet, the two friends never gave up on their dreams of running their own business someday. This year, they decided to act on it.
“We always talked about this in college and (Josh) is always coming up with random ideas,” Van Vleet said. “Finally we were, like, why not start working on this? Let’s go for it.”
While the basic concepts of soccer exist in Joga’s arena, the rules are a bit different than a
Their concept lasts only 10 minutes with no breaks. Each team only has four players on the field
at once and no goalkeepers. The goals themselves are smaller, too, making it tougher to score, but also allowing the players to get more touches during the game.
“There’s no time where you can relax,” von Allworden said. Van Vleet and von Allworden added that the growing interest in soccer helped them make their final decision to start this adventure.
“It’s been mostly positive so far,” Van Vleet said. “There were a couple people stopping and watching us play.”
The arena has been put up only twice since it was completed. Those first two test runs were held at
Waggoner Park in Tempe on weekends. While the response from the community has been positive, the city of Tempe recently informed the group they can no longer play at Waggoner and must reserve a space elsewhere, especially if they want to host tournaments in the future, Van Vleet said.
“We want to involve the community and let them know what we’re doing,” Van Vleet said. “Anything
you can do to help improve the following of soccer in the community is a good thing.”
Their first official event is ‘The Black Friday Tournament’ from noon to Nov. 24 at Tempe Sports Complex, Hardy just north of Warner .
“We’re focusing right now on adult leagues,” Van Vleet said. “But we will definitely expand to kids and
teenagers down the road.”
Anyone interested in signing up can go to www.jogaarenasoccer.com.