WARWICK – Christian Fuchs said he felt “love at first sight” late last year in Warwick.
The English Premier League defender wasn’t gazing at his wife, Raluca Gold-Fuchs. He was touring The Yard sports complex at the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, just before he and Raluca bought it out of bankruptcy for $4 million in November.
Now, the couple is improving the newly renamed Hudson Sports Complex, hatching ambitious plans, and prepping for a June 1 grand opening with a charity scrimmage featuring international soccer stars, following a late January soft opening.
They want to make the site a local mecca for youth sports, including soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football and other sports, while offering free and paid multi-sport camps and clinics.
Plus, they want to host adult soccer games, teach elite American junior soccer players using Fuch’s English Premier League-based curriculum, and lure international pros looking to train.
“These are top-notch folks,” said Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton. “They’re super smart, and they’ve got the resources to create an incredible facility and bring an international spotlight to the Town of Warwick.”
So far, the couple has invested $300,000 into remodeling and expanding the site, adding lights for night play,
and working on a domed 32-yard-by-74-yard outdoor soccer field. Eventually, they plan to turn an overgrown baseball area into a grass soccer field to accompany two existing outdoor and two indoor synthetic turf fields.
“It’s unlimited how much more we want to spend,” Gold-Fuchs said. “I don’t think investing in the property will stop for a very long time.”
Christian Fuchs, 33, and Raluca Gold-Fuchs, 41, have already made the Warwick sports complex home for Christian’s Fox Soccer Academy, which also operates in England, Manhattan, and Westchester and Dutchess counties. It’s named after the former Austrian National Team captain – “Fuchs” translates to Fox in English – and the Leicester City Football Club’s fox mascot.
Fuchs has played in the English city of Leicester, where he helped the team win an improbable Premier League Championship in May 2016, since a free transfer from the Schalke Football Club in 2015.
As for teaching youth soccer, Fuchs said he was inspired, five years ago, after being disappointed with his then-6-year-old son’s American soccer training in Manhattan.
“Our experience of having American kids come to the U.K. is that they’re great athletes, very physical, but their big issues are with tactical awareness, positioning, decision-making, how to react and how quickly to make decisions,” Fuchs said.
He’s already spending his spare time, two or three days a month, in New York, traveling to Warwick to better the sports complex and teach soccer. With a Manhattan home nearby, Fuchs sees Warwick as a convenient, bucolic base from which to spread his love of soccer.
“The first time I saw (the Warwick site) live, I literally fell in love with it,” Fuchs said. “It’s simply an area where I want to spend every day at a training facility, with the lake, the fields and the feeling you have when you enter the facility.”