Coco Cubillas, Rooftop Soccer, Manager
The frenzy officially begins this month, as the FIFA World Cup—held in Brazil from June 12 through July 13—takes center stage for soccer fans around the globe. And while fútbol might still be a tough sell in the rest of the U.S., in Miami, capital of all things Latin American, it’s anything but.
Nowhere is that more evident than at Brickell Soccer Roof Top, where players of all ages, levels and backgrounds convene seven days a week, especially on Wednesday nights, when a coed league takes to the field. The unusual setting—on the top floor of a Brickell Avenue building, amid the skyline’s twinkling lights—is hip, and the energy is infectious. “People are blown away by our setup,” said manager Coco Cubillas, a former member of Miami Fusion and Wilmington Hammerheads soccer teams, who got a head start in the sport as the son of the legendary Peruvian player Nene Cubillas. “We’re booked to the point that no-shows often lose their slot after a couple of strikes.”
Founded nearly a decade ago by the retired Mexican soccer player Pavel Pardo, the facility features two 40-by-20-yard fields of artificial grass. That’s smaller than regulation-sized fields, but good enough to attract stars like Italy’s Alessandro Nesta, Mexico’s Rafa Marquez and Uruguay’s Enzo Francescoli, all of whom are regulars. Weeknight slots fill up with other professionals, followed by college students and service industry workers, all of whom play until as late as 2 a.m. Weekends are more frequently reserved for kids’ birthday parties. “We schedule about 16 to 20 teams for eight games per night,” said Cubillas, who also places individuals, referred to as free agents, on teams. “Everybody wants to play, and we encourage it. This was new when we started, but now fields are popping up all over town—though none’s on a rooftop like us!”
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WHERE TO KICK IT
Ready for some fancy footwork now that the World Cup is on? Brickell Soccer Roof Top’s Coco Cubillas suggests more places to start.
Soccer Town: Miami Beach High School standout-turned-professional Adria “Pinky” Gaete manages this group, whose three fields of artificial turf combine into one large field on weekends. Its 8V8 Premier League fiercely competes on Saturdays, while everyone else is welcome at other times. (2728 NE Second Avenue, Miami; 786-263-9305; soccertownmiami.com.)
Kendall Soccer Coalition: Wannabe soccer stars between the ages of 7 and 18 can sign up for this program, whose coaches are known to have trained professionals in their early years. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s only affiliate in Miami-Dade County, the coalition produced Jhonny Vidales, Alejandro Melean and Juan Guerra, among other star players. (kendallsoccer.com)
Miami Shores Soccer Club: Boasting well-maintained fields of Kentucky bluegrass, this club caters to kids, ages 5 to 15, all year. There’s a half-day camp in June and July, while the real competition, involving tryouts and statewide tournaments, occurs August through May. (9825 NE Seventh Avenue, Miami Shores; 305-962-6888; shoresfutbol.com.)