New Orleans Jesters
United Soccer League Premier Development League (PDL)
Football may be the most popular sport in America but a different kind of football is the most popular sport in the world. At the turn of the 21st century this particular game requiring skilled "foot"work was being played by over 250 million players in 200 countries.
In English-speaking countries it's called "football." In Spanish-speaking countries it's called "fútbol." In the U.S. it's called "soccer."
Although soccer hasn't caught on the U.S. like it has in the other 199 countries and it hasn't attained the popularity of the other kind of football (or baseball or basketball), most major cities and even some smaller ones field soccer teams. New Orleans' semi-pro soccer team is called the Jesters.
The Jesters play their home games in City Park's 5,000-seat Pan-American Stadium. As the world's most popular sport in a city with a large immigrant population, team owners and players are confident that soccer will continue to enjoy the warm reception in New Orleans that it has gotten so far.
The Jesters compete in the Mid-South Division of the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL). In 2010, the Jesters barely missed the playoffs with a record of 7-6-2 (23 points), while in 2009, they went undefeated in the regular season with a record of 5-0-11 (26 points) and did not lose a game until the playoffs.
The Jesters' season runs from the end of May through the middle of July. A total of 16 games are played, eight of which are played at home. Following the regular season, the divisional playoffs are expected to begin in early August.
About the Jesters
The New Orleans Jesters soccer team was established in 2008 by Samson, LLC and they played their first season in 2009. However, their history goes back even farther than that, dating to 2003 when they were known as the Shell Shockers. The team's aim is fourfold:
- To raise the level of soccer in the Greater New Orleans area
- To offer the community affordable family-friendly entertainment
- To provide children with the opportunity to receive soccer instruction through camps, clinics and training sessions
- To prepare players for advancement in the sport of professional soccer, enabling them to try out for and win placement on pro teams
The 2011 New Orleans Jesters team will be an extraordinary blend of high-level American soccer with international flare, featuring players from the U.S., Great Britain, Brazil, Chile, Finland, Wales and several other countries. Skilled players who grew up in countries where soccer is the national sport are expected to lead the team's offensive output, as well as serve as mentors for the Americans and others who haven't played the game as much.
The Jesters' Head Coach is Kenny Farrell, a former PDL Coach of the Year. He has coached the team since the beginning when they were still known as the Shell Shockers.
In addition to league matches, the Jesters host youth camps and clinics during the summer months. The team also participates in numerous community events and fans are encouraged to request players for appearances at local schools, clubs or churches.
The New Orleans Jesters began their existence as the Shell Shockers, entering the PDL as an expansion franchise in 2003. They played their games at the soccer stadium at Tulane University. The name "Shell Shockers" came from the team's sponsorship by the Shell Oil Company.
They won their Mid-South Division title their first year, advanced through the semi-finals but were beaten in the finals by Memphis. For the next four years, from 2004 through 2007, they failed to even make the playoffs. Shell dropped its sponsorship and the team became the New Orleans Shockers. Following another disappointing season in 2008, the team went through an ownership change and a complete makeover.
The new team that was fielded for the 2009 had a new look, a new logo and a new name: the New Orleans Jesters. The next two seasons were winning ones for the team who made the playoffs in 2009 and barely missed them in 2010. Two players from the '09 team were named to the All-Conference Team and one was recognized with All-League Honors.
Also in 2009 the team moved back to Pan American Stadium where they had played the 2005 season just prior to Hurricane Katrina. The heavily damaged stadium was refurbished with a new type of surface known as FieldTurf. When playing at home, the team wears purple and green colors, in keeping with the city's Mardi Gras tradition, while on the road they wear white uniforms.
About the PDL
The USL Premier Development League (commonly known as the PDL) is the amateur league of the United Soccer Leagues in the United States, Canada and Bermuda, forming part of the American Soccer Pyramid. It is currently the top-level men's amateur soccer competition in the United States, and has 64 teams competing in four conferences, split into nine regional divisions. Unofficially, it is considered to be the fourth tier of competition, behind Major League Soccer, the North American Soccer League and the USL Professional Division, and roughly equal with the National Premier Soccer League.
The Jesters compete in the Mid-South Division of the PDL's Southern Conference. Other teams in the division are the Baton Rouge Capitals, Chivas El Paso Patriots, Laredo Heat, Rio Grande Valley Grandes and the West Texas United Sockers.
Most players in the PDL are unpaid amateurs who play mainly for the sport but some players are compensated. Many of the players are young and still in college or recently out of college. To comply with NCAA regulations college athletes cannot be paid or compete on the same team with paid professionals but they can compete against pros. The main purpose of the PDL is to develop talented players who go on to compete professionally.
For more information on the New Orleans Jesters soccer team, ticket packages, youth camps or community appearances, please visit www.NolaJesters.com. Fans can also become followers of the team on Facebook and on Twitter.