Presidio Soccer League President Bob Turner
For more than twenty years, San Diego’s family man Bob Turner has proven that being a leader in youth soccer doesn’t require a coaching license.
For more than two decades, Bob Turner has been an important part of the Southern California youth soccer landscape. The long-time Board Member and current President of Presidio Soccer League, Turner has helped the organization weather a variety of storms, from internal controversies to the defection of teams and entire clubs to competing leagues. Through it all, he has remained a positive, encouraging force in support of youth player success and development.
Turner began his association with soccer in 1991, when he took on the role of assistant coach for his stepson’s Rattlers U8 team. Although he had no previous experience with the sport, he jumped in with both feet and soon became the club’s representative at Presidio and soon after its President. In 1992 Turner was elected to Presidio’s Board of Directors, and he has been a part of the organization ever since.
In the years since 1991, Turner has seen huge changes in the soccer landscape both in San Diego and nationwide. “Soccer in San Diego has grown up,” according to Turner. “Back then, there no paid coaches; today youth soccer is more of a business. Just look at the numbers. There are many more players playing soccer today. In 1991 there were approximate 300 teams in Presidio, and there are 1200 teams registered for 2014.”
Doing what is best for the players has always been of paramount importance to Turner as both a Board member and President of Presidio.
“Presidio Soccer League has always sought to provide the best experience for all of the players from our member teams,” said Turner. This includes more than 18,000 players from 54 member clubs – a formidable number to oversee, but Turner is up to the challenge.
If this were not enough to manage, in 2013 Turner threw his support and that of Presidio behind the new San Diego Developmental Academy (SDDA). While he is not directly involved in the day-to-day running of the SDDA, leaving that to Chairman Rene Miramontes and an Executive Committee that includes co-founders Paolo Landini and ChaCha Namdar, Turner provides support and direction.
“Bob is a leader, not a boss,” explains Miramontes, who has worked closely with Turner for years. “He guides people through what needs to happen and he gives people the space they need. For example, now that SDDA is on track he is taking more of a back seat. Few leaders intuitively understand when to push and when to back off as well as Bob does.”
While the stress of running an organization as large as Presidio might sour a person or change his outlook, Turner has not let that happen. Directors of Coaching and others in the soccer community who have known him for years say that he is the same person they have always known.
“I knew Bob for many years before he became Presidio president, and he is the same person now that he was then,” insists Namdar, who is also Director of Coaching at Scripps United. “He is an energetic man who is passionate about the game of soccer. He cares deeply not only about the success of the league and soccer in San Diego, but about the youth of San Diego. He will go out of his way and spend as much time as needed to make the game of soccer better for the players. It goes without a saying that Bob was very instrumental in getting the SDDA up and running.”
“It feels like Bob Turner has been around the local San Diego soccer scene forever,” said San Diego Soccer Club and Cal South ODP coach John Napier. “I have had always had a good relationship with Bob, and his honest opinions and straight answers make him stand out in the San Diego area soccer.”
With so many clubs and teams involved in Presidio, there are naturally many levels of competition. One of the more recent challenges Turner has faced is the issue of clubs pulling teams out of Presidio to find “higher competition” in other leagues such as the Southern California Developmental Soccer League (SCDSL) or Coast Soccer League (CSL).
“Presidio has a wide range of players, from just above recreational players all the way to our Premier bracket in which some of the best teams compete,” Turner explained to SoccerNation News editor Diane Scavuzzo in an interview in 2011. Presidio has 1100 teams while Coast Soccer League has 2800 teams. There is a lot more opportunity for higher competition in Coast than in Presidio, merely because of the number of teams. Unfortunately, some of San Diego teams leave Presidio seeking higher competition and though we don’t like it, we understand.”
Through it all, Turner has focused on providing the best environment possible for local players – which in part led to the creation of the SDDA. Although he has insisted that the running of the new league is not his responsibility, he has been deeply involved throughout.
“Having been involved since the beginning of this venture, I can attest to the hours, and hours of meetings that have been put together to make this happen,” said Napier of the development of the SDDA. “Bob was always the driving force, and he had some exciting ideas that were implemented by the executive committee.”
It is not an overstatement to say that youth soccer in San Diego County would not be the same without Bob Turner involved. He has kept his focus on providing the best experience for the players, even when adults seemed to have difficulty presenting kids with the best role models.
“Bob Turner has shown with his integrity and leadership that youth soccer is alive and well in this area,” said Napier. “Time will tell if the SDDA is going to be able to attract teams and clubs back from the other leagues, but I know that Bob Turner will make every effort to put the best and most competitive teams together.”
“Bob’s energy is amazing,” marvels Miramontes. “He is the human version of the Energizer Bunny. He is on top of everything with his boundless energy and intelligence.”
“I am proud that San Diego has become a prime destination for elite soccer camps as well as youth soccer tournaments,” said the indefatigable Turner, who has his finger on the pulse of everything soccer in the county. “Last summer, Manchester City Academy coaches trained youth players at a camp, and this summer San Diego is home to camps with Real Madrid, AC Milan, Celtics FC and Philadelphia Union, as well as countless other prestigious summer soccer training programs.”
Asked about his goals for Presidio and for the SDDA, Turner said, “To do the best we can! Our goal is to always provide a place to play the great game of soccer. I want every kid to have the best experience possible. I want all children to want to return to play soccer year after year. For SDDA, we also want to work on providing maximum exposure for the players in who are seeking college scholarships.”
We are the 8th largest city in America, and there is still more work to be done to help kids share the passion for soccer,” Turner concluded. “The competition for leisure activities is our biggest battle. All of us involved in the world of youth soccer need to work together – all the clubs and leagues – and not fight each other. Soccer is the world’s favorite sport. I want to see it San Diego’s favorite sport too.”