The North Gwinnett area has always been into sports, especially Buford. Some sports like football, baseball, softball and basketball have been around for ages. Kids grew up playing little league at the Legion fields and football at the Buford Sports Complex. Other sports are just now gaining popularity, like soccer and lacrosse.
Sugar Hill was the first to have a youth soccer league organized by All-In Futbol between them and Buford. Buford residents did not have a youth soccer league, so many families enrolled their children in the program in Sugar Hill, which plays out of Gary Pirkle Park.
City leaders from Sugar Hill approached the Buford Commission about the need for a league in Buford as a good number of the kids in their league were from Buford. The Buford Commission voted to allow the formation of a Buford youth soccer league.
The All-In Futbol Club was started by Mark MacKain in Sugar Hill in 2014 and has grown to six locations in two states with more than 2,000 players. All-In Futbol accepts boys and girls from age 3 to 18 years old.
MacKain hired Kevin Entrekin, a North Gwinnett graduate, to launch recreational soccer in Buford in summer 2019. The All-In Futbol Club Buford began in fall 2019 with four teams playing out of Gary Pirkle Park. Buford’s official launch was set for spring 2020 with 15 teams. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the kids only got to play one game last spring.
Last fall, All-In FC Buford was back in action with 11 teams that once again played out of Gary Pirkle Park. However, the fall season was not smooth sailing as Hurricane Delta hit the area with a vengeance causing damage to Gary Pirkle Park, which forced the closure of the fields they used. With their season once more in jeopardy, a new venue had to be found. The season was saved after North Gwinnett Middle School allowed the kids to play there.
The dedication to teaching the area youth to love and appreciate the game of soccer led Entrekin along with coaches Ryan Crabbe and Michael Lambros to offer free kicks on the lawn of the Buford Community Center. During the winter, they had 40 kids that they coached in three-hour sessions on Saturdays, plus they continued to offer free kicks on Thursday nights.
The spring 2021 season was due to start in late February at the Buford Youth Sports Complex. Buford’s Parks and Recreation Director Ken Burge offered the league a chance to start using the fields three weeks early. For three weeks leading up to the season, All-In FC Buford held free sessions to players in U10 and below and attracted about 150 players to take part in the free training. These free sessions helped to boost the league’s enrollment numbers.
Featured photo above: Coach Michael Lambros is seen training the U8 Lady Wolves at the Buford Youth Sports Complex on Sawnee Avenue. Photo by Kevin Entrekin.