A graphic about PAL soccer in Niceville, Florida.

PAL Soccer Opens Fall Registration – Sign Up Details Here

For three decades, Vietnam War Hero Howard Hill has served in a different role - PAL Soccer League President. The fighter pilot and POW has seen the number of players grow every year—from 800 in the early 90s to more than 1,200 last year. They've seen growth every year except a dip of 350 kids during the 'COVID year' in 2020.
In Brief:
  • Howard Hill, Vietnam War Hero and former fighter pilot, serves as President of the PAL Soccer Association, overseeing significant growth from 800 to over 1,200 players annually, except for a decline during 2020.
  • PAL Soccer, founded in 1976, offers inclusive programs including girls’ soccer and special needs initiatives, with affordable fees and scholarships ensuring accessibility for all children.
  • The organization faces challenges in coaching availability but maintains a strong community backing, relying on volunteers and partnerships to sustain its operations and expand opportunities for young players.

For three decades, Vietnam War Hero Howard Hill has served in a different role – PAL Soccer Association President. 

The fighter pilot and POW has seen the number of players grow every year—from 800 in the early 90s to almost 1,200 last year. They’ve seen growth every year except a dip of 350 kids during the ‘COVID year’ in 2020. 

He started as a coach, then an administrator and finally president with the non-profit program in the early 90s, as many parents do, after dealing with officials. “Well, to be honest, there was a referee that made a super bad call and kept our team from going into the tournament,” he remembered with a grin, “I figured, ‘okay, I’ll get this organization straightened out. Well, it’s the old thing – once you get in [you don’t leave]. It’s been fascinating.”

INTERVIEW: Former Niceville Girls Soccer Star and Current Pro Player Kayla Fernandez.

Since he joined PAL as a volunteer, the league has expanded offerings to girls (in 1988) and to children with special needs (2005). The special needs program for kids with physical or intellectual disabilities features a lighter practice schedule and is free to any child who wants to play. 

For the other players – PAL looks to keep the fees “affordable,” between $60-90 for a soccer season. The organization also offers scholarships to ensure everyone who wants to playcan. 

RELATED: Niceville Eagles Boys Soccer Falls in the Final Four

Hill says the league would be hard to replicate elsewhere because of the superb community support it receives from various areas. The city of Niceville maintains the fields, and numerous parents volunteer as coaches, administrators, tech gurus, board members, and corporate sponsors to help with everything from jerseys to funds that allow children without money to play. 


With the ever-growing list of boys and girls who want to play soccer, PAL has hit a bottleneck in coaching. The organization has introduced a player cap, which starts to put players on a waitlist until an adult (who must complete some training courses and a background check) volunteers to coach a team. That volunteer then frees up a certain number of slots to more kids.

“We already have two age groups that are already on a waitlist,” Hill said. But he addsthe all-volunteer organization can’t do anything without those extra coaches. “When you do a good job, we add another zero to your pay,” he added with a laugh.  


If you want your kid to play (or if you want to coach 😀) PAL soccer – here’s what you are looking at as far as a commitment. 

RELATED: Fernandez Sisters: From PAL Soccer in Niceville to Division I Glory at the University of Tulsa. 

Practices start on the first week of school – August 12 and the season runs through the last Saturday in October. All told its a two and a half month odyssey with the teams. 

Practice schedules depend on the team – as do the number of games. You can see what your commitment would look like here. 

U10 and U12 tournaments are held in the back half of October. 

Sign Up 

Open registration for players as young as three and as old as eighteen began last weekend. About 550 children have signed up to play. 

You can begin the registration process here. 

Some divisions are already full due to the coaching shortage – but as more coaches volunteer, more players can come off the waitlist and get a spot. 

A Short History of Pal Soccer

PAL Soccer started in 1976 when Elvin Cook started the first soccer team in Okaloosa County. “It had twelve boys and four girls. The girls were the team’s cheerleaders,” Hill remembered. 

Cook, the organization’s first leader, named it PAL soccer after the “Police Athletic Leagues” he was familiar with in the New York City area. 

Hosting the World Cup on US Soil in 1994 led to a boost in sign-ups for the growing league. 

Now, the league boasts dozens of teams and 1,200 players between the ages of three and eighteen every year. 

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