My name is Jon Blumenfeld and I am the founder of SF Pickup Soccer. I started playing soccer at four years old and fell in love with it. I played AYSO until I was 12 years old when I joined a highly competitive, traveling club team. It was fun, but it was also very serious and at times felt like an extension of school or work, rather than a sport that was supposed to be fun. When I was 15 years old, I spent the summer with family friends in Brazil where I learned what real soccer was.
Within days of arriving in Brazil, I played at a local facility that reminded me of a fancier version of The Sandlot–if baseball had been changed to soccer. Old friends and new people would meet there after work, wait for around 25 people to join, and play pick-up for hours – not worrying about winning, losing or any rules at all for that matter.
No referees, no trophies, no coaches…but very high quality, well-organized soccer. For me, this was eye opening and it all clicked.
Coming from my world of American club soccer, seeing people meet up, play for fun and then have a beer together afterward was incredible. Yet the culture of pickup soccer in the United States is virtually non-existent: hundreds of broken links to pickup games on the Internet, poor facilities and zero management.
I am a little older now but I still love to play soccer as much as I did when I saw that facility in Brazil. I studied abroad in the north of Brazil and spent a year in South America after college, teaching English, playing a lot of pick-up soccer, meeting new people, learning Spanish and Portuguese and having fun. Since then, I’ve returned to California and created SF Pickup to re-create this feeling of community and fun in soccer that is so prevalent in other parts of the world.