By Rodney Hays
From the late1980s to the early 2000s, the Dallas Sidekicks won four indoor soccer championships. Current Sidekicks owner and Prosper residents Ronnie and Missy Davis are hoping to continue that tradition with another championship this year. This Saturday the team will open up the 2014 playoffs against the Monterrey Flash.
The popular indoor soccer franchise started in Dallas in 1984. The first owner was Don Carter, who also owned the Dallas Mavericks at the time. Fans packed Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas to follow the team’s success and its most famous player, Tatu, who was known throughout the league for removing his shirt and flinging it in the stands after each goal he scored.
Even after three decades of success, the team turned out the lights for a final time in 2004.
After the eight year hiatus, the Davises decided to resurrect the franchise in 2012, as an expansion team in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL). Davis hired the former Sidekick legend Tatu as the head coach, general manager and a minority owner.
On Sunday afternoon, the team also polished off the regular season with a 13-3 trouncing of the Harrisburg Heat. More than 4,200 fans enjoyed the evening packed with 2 1/2 hours of family entertainment, including the singing of the National Anthem by Prosper’s Rucker Elementary Honor Choir. Before the game, the Sidekicks honored Tatu and former coach Gordon Jago, as the duo were inducted into the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame.
Tatu said he enjoyed his 18 years with the organization as a player. "It was always a dream," he said, "I thought we were very good for the community. It was a sad moment when it went away."
Now the club is back and is providing a lot of family entertainment. During a 72-minute game at the Allen Event Center, the action is non-stop, on and off the field. The pitch is 85 feet by 200 feet, the same size of a hockey rink. The smaller size makes the game move very quickly, with both balls and players bouncing off the walls and the turf. A game of 8 or 9 goals is about average.
When the players are taking a break, the Sidekicks staff takes over and entertains the crowd with contests, including a putting contest and karaoke, upbeat music, throwing t-shirts into the crowd, etc. There is always something to look at inside the arena.
After the game, many of the players came back onto the field to mingle with fans. During the post-game festivities on Sunday, Sidekicks goalkeeper Sagu stayed in goal while young fans took turns trying to score on the Brazilian star.
The team enjoys a lot of success on the field, but the team does work off the field as well. Tatu said that was part of what he and his teammates did when he played.
"We want to do well on and off the field," he said, "but we want to be role models to the community. I think we [the original Sidekicks] were a positive influence on the kids. I want this group to do the same. I know there are good kids in the locker room and they have a lot to give to the community."
Davis said he bought the team because of what the storied franchise stands for. "It was kind of a no-brainer when it was presented to us to buy it," he said.
Last year, the team went into the playoffs as the top seed. Unfortunately, the record didn’t translate into postseason success. The team lost in the first round. But this year, the team finished 14-2 and looks to make a long run.
Davis said the best part of his tenure as owner is the smiles on "the faces of the fans, who are so appreciative that we brought the team back after being gone for eight years."
He said some of the fans actually had tears in their eyes when they said there "thanks."
"That means the world," Davis said.
The team wants to give those fans another championship this season. That road begins this Saturday night at 7 p.m. against heated-rival Monterrey. The rivalry with the Flash dates back to the early days of the Sidekicks. The winner of Saturday night’s game will travel to Hidalgo for a chance to make the Final Four in Chicago.
Individual game tickets for Saturday’s playoff game are on sale now at ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.dallassidekicks.net or call 214-550-6130.
Tatu said, while he enjoys the outdoor game, the indoor game brings a whole new level of entertainment. "I love outdoor [soccer], but the indoor game is a fantastic game," said Tatu. After the Sunday’s big win, Tatu said, "I would have paid to watch. This is one of the best games we played all year."