Published May 10, 2022
Written By:  Mairead Forrest
             East Region Contributor



Last year, in its inaugural WPSL season, Real Central NJ came together and made it to the conference championship. While improving upon a finalist finish this year is certainly in the club’s sights heading into its second season, RCNJ is looking to do more than just check boxes. For RCNJ, it’s never been just about what the club can achieve statistically but how it can do more for others through actions and accomplishments.

This season, RCNJ wants to ensure that it is carrying out its goals on the field and making good on its beliefs off the field, as well. For the club, that has everything to do with maintaining authenticity. 

Even our name is about this idea of being ‘real’...central jersey is real, so it’s not any of the international derivatives like ‘re-al' or anything like that,” Jeremy Ryan, Real Central NJ chief marketing officer, said. “For us, this has always been about this real sport, we’re a real team, and the people we surround ourselves with in New Jersey are real and authentic. The idea that we are bringing something real for everybody drives us.”

Of the three pillars of the club’s mission statement, connect and develop are the ones RCNJ is most identifiably guided by. Creating authentic connections within the community is the most significant driving force for RCNJ. Polling fans and volunteers even sourced its name, but the club is not satisfied with stopping there.

As with everything the club does, it's not content with doing “just enough,” RCNJ wants its impact to span beyond itself. The club wants its choices and actions to matter and doesn’t want to just “talk the talk,” but makes sure to “walk the walk.”

Real Central NJ has participated in several philanthropic initiatives, such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and running coat and bike drives. The club hopes to capitalize on even more it has in the works for this upcoming season. 

The club has also taken the development of a group of Rowan University students personally, instituting an internship program for one of the college’s newest majors, Sports Communication and Media. The interns from this program gain access to first-hand sports media experience across various production and journalistic pursuits. This chance to grow their talents and interest and gain knowledge is invaluable, especially for current intern, Mohamad Hassan, who was integral in piloting the program.

To be in the sports world, kids just want to get opportunities. Everyone just wants an opportunity...and this summer, Rowan students will get the opportunity to broadcast RCNJ games,” Hassan said. "And it [broadcasting] will be hands-on, all of it. So I expect the program to continue and impact students long after I graduate, and that’s really important to me.”

Most important to RCNJ is that it constantly acts as a ladder for women’s sports. Or, as Ryan put it, the club’s intention has never been about “creating an ‘us versus them’ when it comes to other WPSL teams. But instead, it should be about rallying the sum of us rather than creating divisiveness.”

For the club, last year’s Match Fit youth girls’ program club night, hosted by RCNJ, best symbolized the fulfillment of this goal. 

It was a good night... We won... And that was cool,” Ryan said, “But what I remember most about that night was the number of fans chanting in the stands, mostly kids. So if that happens twice this year, that's the kind of growth we want to see as a club.”

The Match Fit Club-night match and the opportunity it provided to develop and connect with a group of youth players in their home state and offer the same to Real Central NJ’s own players was priceless. That night is what the game, the WPSL, and RCNJ are all about.