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The Roots and Soul of Soccer

Oakland, Alameda now have a pro sports organization that puts community first

Two weeks ago, the big news—for a day or two—was that an Oakland A’s spokesperson said the Vegas-bound team would be willing to share the Coliseum with the Oakland Roots Sports Club (SC) soccer team in 2025. That news might have meant more to local fans if the A’s ongoing saga wasn’t so tedious and fickle.

Alameda Post - a collage of Roots and Soul players and fans
Photos Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul / Instagram, Facebook. Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right.

The Roots, who play their 2024 home opener Saturday, March 9, at Cal State East Bay’s Pioneer Stadium in Hayward, have been looking for a place to play in 2025 and are considering building a stadium at the Malibu Lot next to the Coliseum. Their team spokesperson opted not to comment on what the A’s said—or possibly didn’t say. After all, the popular soccer organization is, by design, devoted to Oakland, regardless of what the A’s decide to do. The Roots’ slogan is “Oakland First Always,” which is one of the many reasons local fans love them.

A few years ago, the A’s slogan, “Rooted in Oakland,” also meant everything to fans, especially since the Raiders and Warriors had already moved out. Last week, the huge banner that proclaimed that motto at the Coliseum was taken down, in preparation for the A’s to leave as well. A few days later, A’s President Dave Kaval unveiled new signs—huge photos featuring some of the team’s historic moments and favorite players, including Oakland native Rickey Henderson. Then he posted on social media: “The 2024 season will be a celebration of our 50-plus years in Oakland!” Laugh or cry, your choice.

“The words Oakland and Roots are together in our crest and in our identity. We wouldn’t exist without Oakland.” -Roots SC Co-Founder Edreece Arghandiwal

Thankfully, the Roots SC has a very different relationship with its fans, the City of Oakland, and the entire community. Co-Founder Edreece Arghandiwal put it simply: “There is no Roots without Oakland. The words Oakland and Roots are together in our crest and in our identity. We wouldn’t exist without Oakland.”

Alameda Post - a photo of the Roots celebrating on the field and a photo of a fan waving a flag
Photos Oakland Roots / Instagram. Left, right.

What sets the Roots apart?

The Roots’ approach is very different from that of past professional sports teams.

“This club wasn’t co-founded by billionaires parking a bus on a community and then, when a financial gain doesn’t work out to their advantage, they leave,” Arghandiwal said in a recent conversation with the Alameda Post. “The Roots Sports Club was literally created in pubs, in coffee shops, in the community, by people of the community. So, from the very start, there’s a stark difference in our reality, in that it really is completely rooted in Oakland, in a very authentic way.”

Alameda Post - the Oakland Roots gym, with Raiders logos on the floor
The Roots training room sports another familiar logo. Photo Liz Barrett.

Roots Vice President of Public Relations and Communications Tommy Hodul agrees 100%. Like Arghandiwal, he was born and raised in Oakland, and holds the city and the East Bay in general dear to his heart. He even has an Oakland tattoo.

“We set out to create a purpose-driven soccer club with the mission at the top being to harness the magic of Oakland and the power of sport as a force for social good,” Hodul told the Post. “Every decision we make has to fall under that lens, and that includes what partners we work with, what sponsors we work with, what community people we work with, all the way to what players we sign.”

Alameda Post - the logos for the City of Oakland, the Oakland Soul, an the Oakland Roots

Oakland First Always

Oakland First Always doesn’t mean you have to be from Oakland, Hodul explained. Indeed, the Roots’ training facility is in Alameda, on Bay Farm Island, where the Raiders used to train. Roots and Soul mottos cover the walls, but the black-and-silver Raiders logo is still highly visible. It’s part of the history and culture of Oakland, so it’s not forgotten or erased. “Oakland First Always” is inclusive—and has a good memory.

“It’s about the ethos and the mindset of the city,” Hodul said. “First Always means that you believe in diversity, you believe in inclusivity, you believe in arts, humanity, culture. … It’s that ethos and culture that has allowed Oakland to be part of the sporting world, and also part of leading activism and taking care of people and thinking forward.”

“…If you give to the world, the world’s going to give back,”  -Arghandiwal

As examples, Hodul cited activist, cultural, and sports heroes from Oakland. He noted the groundbreaking community work the Black Panthers did for the community, from free breakfasts for school children to community food pantries and free health clinics. He also cited the late Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony Music Director and Conductor, and the MUSE Program that continues to provide free music education to thousands of young people. And of course, he mentioned some of the great local sports heroes who made history.

“Oakland has always been at the forefront,” Hodul said. “Frank Robinson was the first Black manager in the history of Major League Baseball. He’s from Oakland, McClymonds High School. Bill Russell was the first Black manager in the NBA. He’s from Oakland, McClymonds High School.” The list goes on and on.

Catch a game this season

The best way to enjoy the Roots and Soul is to get out to a game and watch them play on their home turf. The gameday atmosphere is really fun. And these teams are good!

“The first Soul season couldn’t have been more magical,” Tommy Hodul said. “They made the playoffs on the final day of the year—with a hat trick goal!”

Alameda Post - the 2024 schedules for the Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul
Catch the Roots (left) and Soul (right) at their home games or hit the road to cheer them on this March through October. Check the website for a full list of all Roots games, including away games. Images Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul / Instagram.
Roots tickets

The Roots will play all 2024 home games at Cal State East Bay’s Pioneer Stadium in Hayward.

To purchase tickets, visit the Roots website or use the Roots SC app (download from the App Store or Google Play). Tickets may also be purchase by phone—both Spanish- and English-speaking sales representatives are available—at 510-488-1144.

Soul tickets

The Soul will play all 2024 home games at Merritt College in Oakland. Their home opener will be on May 12. Ticket packages and individual game tickets for the Soul are available to purchase online or on the Roots app.

Alameda Post - coaches and staff stand on a soccer field
The 2024 Roots technical staff. Photo Oakland Roots / Instagram.

Mutual respect

Like Hodul, Arghandiwal sees the Roots SC—including the women’s soccer team, the Oakland Soul—as an integral part of the rich culture of his birthplace.

“We’re not just a sports club,” he said. “We are a cultural institution, like the symphony, the ballet, the museum. We’ve never said no to showing up for community events. We’ve extended ourselves in ways that most professional sports teams don’t because we believe that showing up for the community over and over is the way to success.”

“The biggest cultural movement in the world is the game of soccer,” -Roots VP of Public Relations and Communications Tommy Hodul

What goes around comes around.

“I’m a firm believer in this—if you give to the world, the world’s going to give back,” Arghandiwal said. “And that’s exactly what has happened with the Roots and Soul. In the circumstances that we’re facing, which is us trying to secure a stadium so that we can invite more people to our games and expand the message of peace and love, the city has been tremendously supportive because they see us as an authentic approach to sports, a true representation of the open community. And we’re forever grateful for that.”

Alameda Post - a photo of Oakland Soul players smiling and a photo of the Oakland Soul crowd with supportive signs
Photos Oakland Soul / Instagram. Left, right.

Oakland Soul

“The biggest cultural movement in the world is the game of soccer,” Hodul said. “And Oakland, being a hub of inclusivity, diversity, arts, and culture, and at the forefront of a lot of different movements, made it a no-brainer for us to say that Oakland has to have a soccer team—and that means a women’s team too. That’s why Oakland Soul is so important to us.”

The team’s 2024 roster won’t be fully settled until the end of March, Hodul said, but last year’s team included two World Cup veterans—Miranda Nild played for Thailand in 2019 and Teresa Noyola played for Mexico in 2011 and 2015.

“What makes them both so incredible is the fact that they both are Bay Area natives who got to represent their parents’ countries,” Hodul said. “That is the most Bay Area story you can have. The fact that they play for us is something we don’t take lightly. The pinnacle of the game is to play in the World Cup.”

The Soul currently play in the USL W League, but they will eventually compete in the USL Super League, a Division I professional women’s soccer league, when they have a set stadium, Hodul said. Stay tuned.

Liz Barrett is the Copy Editor of the Alameda Post and writes about our community. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at

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