Richard Novoa, Jr. (Photo courtesy E.B. Harding Photography)
Five years ago today, Sacramento Gold FC founder Richard Novoa, Jr. passed away due to complications related to a liver transplant which had saved his life years ago. He was 59 years old.
"Richard set a great example of sportsmanship, enterprise and passion that we aspire to with the Sacramento Gold to this day," said Sacramento Gold FC owner John Nunan. "He continues to be our inspiration."
Richard's impact on the Sacramento area sports scene was well-established years before the Gold was founded. After graduating from Washington High School and attending Sacramento State University, he began a long career in the sports entrepreneurial field. He opened a sporting goods store in the 1980's, worked for several state departments, ran his Aztec Promotions firm, and served on the Access Sacramento board, Sacramento Region Sports Education Foundation, and Cal Expo Advisory Council. It was in this role where he helped return professional boxing to the State Fair, though not before guaranteeing the in-ring safety of fighters such as Tony "The Tiger" Lopez, Loreto Garza, Diego Corales, and many more.
"I reminisce back to the 1960's, when Richard started the Broderick Aztecs (youth soccer teams). He asked me to help him find players, and that we did -- plenty of them," said Wayne Novoa, Richard's brother and Sacramento Gold FC Community Relations Manager. "We had white t-shirts with a number written on with permanent parker, Levi's cut-offs for shorts and any socks they could pull up higher than the cardboard shin guards or whatever hard rubber/plastic everyone cut into the shape of a shin guard above the tennis shoes most players wore."
In the 2000's, Richard's health began to decline. A liver infection threatened his life in 2005. It was his wife, Joyce, who donated part of her liver in a transplant operation, extending his life for another six years. Richard began a sports column for the West Sacramento News-Ledger entitled "The Sports Insider," which he kept up until interrupted by illness months before his death. In 2009, in recognition of his tremendous impact, he was inducted into the Mexican-American Sports Hall of Fame.
When Richard introduced Sacramento Gold FC to the world on March 16, 2010, he promised competitive, low-cost soccer entertainment for both sides of the Sacramento River, as well as the club's players and coaches integrating into the development of the city's soccer youth. The club has proudly kept his promise, winning the NPSL National Championship in the club's first year of existence and remaining a league-wide contender ever since. Gold alumni, such as Miguel Aguilar of D.C. United and Sacramento Republic FC's Dominik Jakubek and Max Alvarez, have also seen success in the sport's professional ranks. Most importantly, generations of players have engrained themselves in Sacramento's various youth soccer programs, ensuring that the development of the city's sporting future is in good hands.
"Richard was a close and personal friend who made his vision and dream come true," said Sacramento Gold FC head coach Ruben Mora, Jr. "He loved his team and he is always remembered and loved by his team."
To honor Richard's legacy and impact on the club and area, Sacramento Gold FC will be reintroducing "Go for the Gold" as its official slogan. A favorite of Richard's, the slogan not only expresses his desire for the club's to be the best on the field, but also his call in uniting both sides of the Sacramento River in cheering on a shining example of their city's success.
Richard Novoa (top row, second from right) celebrates with his team after the Gold's 3-1 victory over Chattanooga FC in the 2010 NPSL National Championship Game. (Photo courtesy NPSL)