Chicago, December 11, 2020
The Dutch Lions FC organization today announced the launch of Chicago Dutch Lions FC, their 7th soccer club in the USA. The club will have a Women’s team competing in the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL), the second highest level of play for women in the country, and also offer camps, clinics, and skill training during the season with their coaching staff, players and high-level coaches coming in from Europe every year. The club is also looking to build partnerships with not only Chicago City FC in the WPSL, but also youth soccer clubs to provide a “Gateway to Professional Soccer.”
Nikhil Erlebach is the Chicago Dutch Lions FC CEO/General Manager. He was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany and grew up playing soccer for the youth academy of Bundesliga club FC St. Pauli. He first moved to the USA in 2004 to play college soccer in the Big West Conference for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California. Erlebach has strong personal ties to Chicago, where he worked as a youth soccer coach and in club administration for Chicago Fire Juniors and FC United for three years from 2011 to 2014.
"I am very happy we were able to bring Dutch Lions FC to Chicago. The organization has proven over the years that its model provides a great platform for young players to bridge the gap from youth and college to professional soccer in the States and Europe," Erlebach states. In his time coaching youth soccer in Chicago, he saw the great level of soccer talent in the area first-hand. Erlebach is dedicated to "provide additional opportunities for girls and young women to take their game to the next level and make great memories while doing so in Chicago.” "On a personal level, I am eager to connect to the communities in Chicagoland via the beautiful game," concludes Erlebach, whose wife grew up in the western suburbs. Their two children were both born in Chicago. Besides his role with Chicago Dutch Lions FC, Erlebach is also active as an agent and player intermediary in Germany.
According to Mike Mossel, CEO of the Dutch Lions Capital Group USA LLC, Chicago has always been on the top of the expansion list. “The Chicago area produces so many good female soccer players, but there are not a lot of opportunities to turn professional in the United States. Dutch Lions FC wants to provide soccer players the chance to become professional, either domestically or in Europe,” Mossel says. He further states that “in Europe there is a shortage of good female players, while women’s soccer is growing rapidly.” Dutch Lions FC has had five players from their women’s team in Dayton sign contracts in Europe in recent years, and the organization would like to increase that number. Also, USWNT player Rose Lavelle played two years for the Dayton Dutch Lions FC Women’s team. “I am very excited to work with our Chicago Dutch Lions FC Director of Operations, Artur (Methoxha), and CEO/General Manager, Nikhil (Erlebach), on this project and also like to thank the WPSL and Chicago City FC for the very constructive meetings starting our new club,” Mossel states in conclusion.
Artur Methoxha has been assigned as the Director of Operations and WPSL Assistant Coach for Chicago Dutch Lions FC. Methoxha has been passionately coaching and mentoring both male and female players of all ages in Chicago for over 10 years. Training at Methoxha’s Footskills-Era Inc. and youth soccer club, ERA FC, combined with local partnerships and his excellent relationships with the Illinois Youth Soccer Association, the Young Sportsmen’s Soccer League (YSSL), and the Illinois Women’s Soccer League (IWSL) have helped many young players to improve their game and grow on the field as well as off the field. “I am very happy and thankful to Mike (Mossel) and Nikhil (Erlebach) for including me in their fantastic team. We are very proud and excited to join the WPSL family,” Methoxha states. According to him, talented girls will have the possibility to train with the team and get access to top-level coaching and training. “The arrival of Chicago Dutch Lions FC will motivate our young soccer players to work hard, dream big, and help them to achieve their short-term and long-term goals in soccer,” Methoxha says.
WPSL President Sean Jones commented on the expansion team: "We are very excited for the Dutch Lions Capital Group to expand their exciting style of soccer to the Chicago area. The Dutch Lions have a proven track record and will be a great addition to the Midwest Conference for the 2021 season."