Demba Ba Hopes To Make San Diego Proud With New NASL Club

The soccer star talks about his ambition and vision for the side that begins play in 2018
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Jul 20, 2017

Photo credit: San Diego NASL

Right place. Right time.

That’s how Demba Ba, who has played with Chelsea, Newcastle United, and Besiktas in his career, describes investing in a professional soccer team in San Diego County. Ba is a part of the ownership group along with three other professional soccer stars – Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Crystal Palace’s Yohan Cabaye, and Fenerbahce’s Moussa Sow – and local owner Bob Watkins.

The San Diego side will begin play starting in the 2018 NASL season.

“We came here at the right time at the right place,” Ba told “We have a lot of hard work to do to make sure everybody is on board. And when I say everybody I don’t mean just the team and the players, but the team, the players, the city, the community, everybody.”

While taking an ownership role, Ba is also looking to provide a teaching role to the players that will make up the roster for the San Diego club, with a particular focus on the forwards.

“What I want to do is, everything that I know I want to teach it,” he said. “I’m going to be very involved with this club, especially with the strikers. I’ve been a striker my whole life and if I can help players get better on the pitch, I’ll do it. I’m sure the other guys will do it as well.”

And for the club, the philosophy is going to be put in place before signing players.

“We define the philosophy of the game, we definite our identity of the team,” Ba said. “We want to build the philosophy and identity of play so it doesn’t matter who is the coach, the president, or players on the pitch. This team will have its own identity and philosophy and that’s where we start first.”  

In 2018, San Diego will be joined by Orange County and along with the San Francisco Deltas, who began play in 2017, the California rivalry should begin in earnest from the outset of next year’s campaign.

“Rivalries, derbies, when you have games like this against your neighbors it’s exciting,” Ba said. “When the league drops the calendar, everybody is just looking for these games. I played in Newcastle, Sunderland was just down the road. Every time at the beginning of the season it was, ‘When are we playing them at home, when are we playing them away?’

“Derbies are something special. We’re looking forward to playing those games.”

Now, though, the hard work begins to put together a side that San Diego County can be proud of and one that can be successful on the field, just like the players in the ownership group have had. Hazard most recently won the Premier League title with Chelsea.

“We know what we have to do to win and be successful,” Ba said. “When you’re successful, everybody is proud of the team. When you live in a city where your team is winning, you’re proud to represent this team. We hope that the people are going to come and support and be proud.”

In the end, the decision to be in San Diego was an easy one for Ba.

“It’s a lovely city and they [the people of San Diego] are passionate about soccer,” Ba said. “They deserve it because they were waiting for so long.”

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