VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — The Birmingham Hammers got together for their first practice as a semi-professional club Monday night in preparation for their first season in the National Premier Soccer League.
The practice comes 12 days before the team’s only friendly match of the preseason on April 30th. They open the season a week later in Atlanta against the Georgia Revolution.
“It’s really exciting just to get going,” head coach Joel Person said. “It’s really cool to be a part of something like this. It’s something special not just for this team but for soccer in general in Alabama.”
The Hammers have many players returning from last year’s team that played an exhibition schedule across the Southeast. Right now, though, they are missing close to half the team due to those players finishing up classes at their respective universities.
“We do have a lot of them here that are close enough to drive in to practice,” Person said. “A lot of our players won’t come in for the next week, two weeks, so we’re facing a situation where we’re going to have to put a product on the field without having any training with each other very much, and that’s a very difficult challenge.”
Person said the team will work on mostly fundamentals the first week or so before the entire team comes together.
The Hammers first home match as a member of the NPSL is May 14th against Chattanooga FC, the reigning runner-up in the league.