“We are still very young,” says Phillip Lin.
Lin is the owner of Fayetteville Fury, an indoor and outdoor soccer team in Fayetteville. Lin, who has been with the team at least as a minority owner since its creation, has seen a lot of change in the team in its short time with the Fury coming up on its third season. He honestly hopes to see more change and growth in the future.
Fayetteville Fury was started by Andrew Haines and a partner as part of the National Indoor Soccer League.
Seeing the potential in Fayetteville and North Carolina, the Fury was born in the All America City. At the time, Lin was just a minority investor but the only owner local to North Carolina.
“They felt like there was a lot of potential in Fayetteville,” Lin says. “There was good infrastructure. It was easy for games.”
Midseason this year, Lin took over the entirety of the ownership. He said he had always wanted to be a sports owner.
“The Fayetteville Fury helped me start that,” he said. “There was no local ownership so I came to all the games. I got to know the players, the fans. I fell in love with Fayetteville as a city.”
And so, the ownership changed hands.
“I want to see soccer grow … that’s why I decided to take over the Fury.”
Fayetteville Fury hosts soccer games and practices all year long by being an indoor and an outdoor soccer team and includes both male and female players. The potential for playing, the ability to play year round and the potential for growth in the area didn’t just attract Lin but also professional players from other areas like TJ Hurd, one of the Fury’s team captains from last season.
“Fayetteville is very interesting to say the least,” Hurd laughs. “There were a lot of roads and opportunities to expand the soccer team there.”
And Lin and others feel like it’s just at its beginning. At least, that is what the team is hoping with programs the Fury does, like Fury Future and Fury Next. Fury Next focuses on helping high school age kids to college age kids by hosting games against soccer teams on a collegiate level.
“That way, the university can see them,” Lin says. “And parents don’t have to pay.”
Fury Future focuses on the younger players by allowing those younger players to work out with the Fury’s players. The team evaluates what the younger players are good at and where they think the players can improve. This includes all kids ages five and up.
“We want to streamline this thing,” Lin says. “We can help develop the kids. From there we can feed it into UPSL … and then they can go pro. We want to make soccer affordable and accessible.”
Lin dreams of Fayetteville Fury being a team that can help be a stepping stone for players like Hurd who is currently in pro trials out in California. Hurd hopes to know in a month or so if he’s made an actual team roster.
“I appreciate them helping me in my playing career,” Hurd says. “For any clubs in Fayetteville and people that are interested in the game more seriously, Al and Phil have people’s best interest the whole way through. The project that they are working on takes time.”
This sentiment is something that newly hired social media coordinator for the Fury, Emily Hyde, agrees with completely. When thinking of Fayetteville Fury, Hydes notes the family feel of being a part of the team and its dedication to improving the community.
"They want to give back to the community," she says. "I really want them to be seen by the community ... they are a relatively new club."
Lin’s plan is for the Fayetteville Fury to help train young players and players who are hoping to go pro so that one day the team can put Fayetteville, North Carolina on the map.
“They can get on a big stage one day and they say this person is from Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
The players and management at the Fayetteville Fury are also trying to provide a place for women soccer players to go as well. The Fury has both men and women players. Lin says they are getting ready this summer to expand that.
“Number one, my focus is now to improve the community,” he says. “I think Fayetteville Fury is part of that. I’m hoping that as Fayetteville Fury grows, that the community will see the impact.”
Above all else, Lin emphases the goal of making soccer both affordable and accessible in the community. He thinks the Fayetteville Fury will do just that.