NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB: Creating a community-driven football brand

Jonathan Tomlinson



From the Premier League to the Goalposts League, to the WSL and the MLS, at its core, football is about community and that’s exactly what NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB is bringing to the game.

NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB is a brand creating the intersection of football culture and community through sport, design, activations, and storytelling. Born in Oakland, the team behind the project have ambitious plans to create an indoor football facility with a cafe bar and retail space. 

Co-founder, Max Ornstil has been at the core of Oakland’s community, spending 6 seasons playing professionally and ending his career in his home town and playing for the Oakland Roots; a team that is known for its multi-faceted, community-driven business model. We caught up with Max ahead of the launch of the latest NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS Collection.

Tell us a little about your experience of playing for the Oakland Roots. 

As a kid growing up in Oakland with aspirations of playing professional football but no local professional team around, eventually signing for the Oakland Roots years later was a full circle moment. From the branding of the city's area code on all training and game kits to the marketing campaigns that paid homage to the diversity and soul of Oakland, it was a team that as a kid I would have been a fanatic supporter of and dreamed to one day play for.  It was a special experience having the opportunity to represent my hometown and have my parents, extended family, close friends, and the community who watched me grow up in the stands and as supporters.  

It seems like community is at the core of everything that happens at Oakland Roots. How has this impacted you over the time you spent at the club?

Community is certainly an emphasis of the club and I felt great pride in knowing we were creating an impact in a place I call home. Football is a vehicle for social good and the Roots make a point to harness the magic of Oakland to do so. As I look to now grow a business also in Oakland with NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB, community is similarly a core value in what we are building. 

How do you think a club who puts it’s community first differs to a club that doesn’t?

I think the clubs that put community first differ from those that don't in that they are able to create greater social impact and develop a relationship with supporters that can thrive regardless of wins or losses. Club and community connection is key to accessing the limitless possibilities that football has in unification and creating social change.  

Tell us about how your idea for NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB came about.

The idea for NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB (NSC) came about when my two business partners Dylan Autran and Jordan Jesolva were both playing professionally abroad in Norway. They noticed the "neighborhood" pitch that was found all over Europe was rare in the US and certainly in our hometown Oakland, a city scarce of places to play with an exploding soccer community. It was clear there was a void and we wanted to create a space where the soccer community could come together and enjoy everything the beautiful game has to offer. Once I moved back to Oakland in 2021 to play for the Roots, we formally started the brand and have been growing it ever since. 

What do you hope to achieve with NEIGHBORHOOD SPORTS CLUB? 

We are looking to be the intersection of football culture and community. We want our brand and space to be a place for the community to come together and celebrate all that football has to offer. Whether it be our pop-ups, branded apparel, or original content we are looking to push the possibilities of a football-inspired brand.  

What’s the ultimate goal?

The ultimate goal is to have a space in Oakland with small-sided fields, a cafe bar, and retail that will be a hub for the football community. While looking for that space, as a brand we are growing our original content, NSC apparel, curated vintage collection, and one-of-a-kind football activations. As football continues to grow in our community and the US, we will be a brand connecting community and culture through the beautiful game. 



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