Jamie Deuel, the founder of the Northwest Rio Grande Soccer League, passed away June 29. He was 87 years old.
Deuel founded NWRGSL in the Fall of 1976 after he returned home after serving 21 years in the U.S. Navy. The retired commander had been stationed in England. When he returned home, Deuel’s 13-year-old son, Jake, asked his father if he could start a soccer team in Paradise Hills. At first Deuel was reluctant because he had no experience coaching or playing soccer. He was a former Olympic wrestling official. But a few days later, 11 boys and two girls met to form the Paradise Panthers. Within a year, the team grew into an entire league encompassing clubs from Bernalillo, Alameda, Rio Rancho and Corrales. Five hundred children and 32 teams were registered in the league within a year. By 1979, it grew to 4,000 kids. At the time it cost $10 to join the league.
After founding NWRGSL, Deuel quickly became and advocate for youth soccer. He was a commissioner for the New Mexico Youth Soccer Association. In 1979, the city threatened not to allow soccer to play on its fields due to the high maintenance cost. Deuel, was able to organize a fundraiser by selling books and was able to raise $10,000 to help secure specialized fields for soccer.
In 1979, Deuel explained the mission of NWRGSL to the Albuquerque Journal.
“My theory, about 80 percent of kids go out for a sport are out there for the fun of it more than anything else,” he said. “But there are about 15 to 20 percent who will be very intense and want to excel in it. There’s no reason we can’t have both.”