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The year is 1986. This is the year a man found himself in the Valley of the Sun with a vision. He is named Luis Dabo. Dabo was born in the African nation of Guinea-Bissau and once played for one of Portugal’s most decorated clubs, SL Benfica. It was after some professional coaching stints that in 1986 Dabo founded Santos Futbol Club in Phoenix. Right from the start, he made one thing clear: "It's not about winning. It's about developing the person."
Dabo’s coaching is founded upon building of the person. The well respected coach has even won a national youth-boys title, but is more proud of his team not having collected a single yellow card during the duration of the tournament. Dabo’s vision is to have his players develop into, mature, self-reliant individuals on and off the pitch. A vision he shared with CEO/Owner of Gorilla Elite FC, Lonnel Baisey.
Lonnel Baisey, referred to as “Coach L”, owns Gorilla Elite Training, LLC, a program that trains athletes in a variety of different criteria to improve their performance. Coach L began present-day Gorilla Elite FC, with only a group of young men he was training to boost their performance in soccer. As the group became close with one another and with Coach L, they urged him to form a team and join a league to compete in. Coincidence or fate, the timing was perfect.
News of the United Premier Soccer League’s expansion into Arizona broke out and Coach L was quick to gather information and ultimately purchase a league franchise. Thus, Gorilla Elite FC was born. Coach L took to the teachings of his mentor and friend, Luis Dabo, and now aspires to take his team of young men and serve as a tool to turn them into great men.
The program is tough, but the determination instilled within the men by the philosophies passed from Dabo to Coach L is ever-enduring.
Coach L is not shy in sharing his aspirations. He expects nothing but the best performance from his team and his organization as a whole. With that being said, the purpose of the club is something he says at some point in time during every practice: “turn good men into great men”. Gorilla Elite FC is here to serve as a bridge. A bridge from good to great. A bridge from amateur to professional.