Soccer frenzy swept the world last summer, as the sports finest athletes competed on the grandest of stages; the 2010 FIFA World Cup, held in Africa. Soccer fans across New Orleans took to bars and restaurants for a glimpse of the fastest growing sport in the world. While the FIFA World Cup occurs once every four years, soccer fans in New Orleans can continue soccer frenzy at Pan American Park this Summer as the New Orleans Jesters embark on their third season in United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. The New Orleans Jesters, formerly the New Orleans "Shell Shockers" open the 2011 home season with a double header against defending champion Loredo Heat on May 27 and 28.
The Jesters have moved back to the Mid South Division of the Southern Conference which Head Coach Kenny Farrell believes is the toughest in the league."If you look back over the last few years teams like Loredo and Chivas El Paso have won consecutive championships, it will be a much tougher slate this season in a very competitive division."
Just as the city, this team's identity is comprised of local talent with a mix of international stars. The Jesters feature five players with ties to the area, including former Jesuit High School star and 2010 ACC Freshmen of the Year, Patrick Mullins, of the University of Maryland. "Patrick is a superb player, and has a bright future, we are lucky to have him," said Farrell.
In addition to Mullins, international players from England, Finland and Sweden are primary contributors to the club. Reece Wilson of England returns to the squad as the team leader, says Farrell. "Reece was brought back as the leader on and off the field. He will score for us."
"These players come from all over the world, including the English Premier League as well as the United States Regional Olympic teams, and discover this soccer league is very competitive. The local players can play. This is the most competitive level of soccer in the region," says Farrell.
After finishing the 2010 season 9-6-1, Farrell believes the team has what it takes to be successful this year. "This team has character. Each player has accepted responsibility, and each member of the team is talented. Together they can win a championship," said Farrell.
The Jesters provide more than soccer; they are about family in New Orleans. "Apart from providing opportunities for development—we try to provide the best entertainment in a soccer manner for all families, our attendance was great last season, and continues to grow," said Farrell. Last season's matchups also featured fireworks, halftime entertainment, fundraisers to support local charities as well as live music.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets can visit the New Orleans Jesters website at www.nolajesters.com. All games are played at Pan American Park, outside of City Park. Please contact the Jesters for more information.
6/08/2011 7 PM Mississippi Brilla
6/12/2011 7 PM @Nashville Metros
6/18/2011 7 PM Chivas El Paso Patriots
6/25/2011 7 PM Baton Rouge Capitals
6/29/2011 7 PM @Baton Rouge Capitals
7/01/2011 8 PM @Laredo Heat
7/02/2011 8 PM @RGV Grandes FC
7/06/2011 7 PM Baton Rouge Capitals
7/12/2011 7 PM @Mississippi Brilla
7/15/2011 7 PM West Texas United Sockers
7/23/2011 7 PM @Baton Rouge Capitals