NISA Solidifies Its Presence in the Mid-South Through Affiliation With Desmond Armstrong-Led Amateur League

Sep 3, 2021

CHICAGO (September 2, 2021) – The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) proudly embarks on an amateur league affiliation with the new Tennessee-based Pioneer Premier League (PPL). The league is led by Desmond Armstrong and his business partner.  Desmond himself is a pioneer in the American game as the first Black player born in the United States to start for the USA at a FIFA World Cup (Italia '90).

"Our affiliations are focused on providing opportunities for player, staff and club growth,” says NISA Executive Vice President Josh Prutch. “The Pioneer Premier League not only aligns with our philosophy, it is led by talents that have carved the grooves for the full range of participants in American soccer looking to establish careers in on the pitch and in the front office.”

The breadth of the affiliation network NISA is building is close to sea-to-shining sea. Over the last 16 months, the list of amateur affiliates forged includes the Gulf Coast Premier League, Eastern Premier Soccer League, the Mountain Premier League, the Midwest Premier League, the Southwest (formerly SoCal) Premier League, and the Cascadia Premier League (formerly the Western Washington Premier League). However, the Pioneer Premier League is a first for NISA as it’s an affiliate led by a person at the national-team level.

“NISA gives us a chance for top players to move from our division to the professional ranks,” says PPL Commissioner Armstrong. “The opportunity to compete is all we’ve ever sought. Components like solidarity payments matter. No other league offers any type of solidarity as demanded by FIFA globally. That vision helps to develop the growth of the game and the smaller guys participating in the growth of the sport...especially in the U.S.”

Armstrong and his partner have scouted specific clubs for their league that met stringent qualifications.  Pioneer’s region primarily includes Tennessee and Kentucky and will extend into parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. The inaugural season will feature six established and highly respected clubs that share similar philosophies and values in the game; Atletico Atlanta & VinoTinto of Atlanta, AFC615 & Legacy Heroes of Nashville, as well as WeUnited of Memphis (Tenn.), and FC Birmingham of Birmingham (Ala.). The duo has already had contact from other interested regional clubs and are currently vetting them with plans to grow its members in the Spring.

The PPL has some unique offerings to ensure clubs can sustain both as a business and their participation within the league. In late August, the organization held a members-only, pre-season cup which awarded champion Atletico Atlanta a cash prize that covered costs for the entire fall season. The PPL also tenders another cash prize to its season champion and runner-up. This means just based on association amenities alone, clubs have the option to recover their league fees before a season starts and turn a profit if crowned a winner. 

Staying in-step with its belief in player promotion, the PPL also will hold a combine this fall for all its clubs’ top talent. A team will be created and head to Europe to compete against professional teams for scouting purposes/contracts. Professional domestic games/tryouts also are planned.

NISA also will have Pioneer send two of its teams to the annual NISA Independent Cup tournament and also welcome it as an active participant on the NISA Alliance Board, which manages the interconnectedness of the growing number of affiliates.


About Pioneer Premier League

Founded in 2021, the Pioneer Premier League (PPL) is conditioned by its slogan “Preparing the Way.” The focus and mission of the PPL is to provide a platform in which young, talented players can be seasoned by mature competition in preparation for their next station. The scope of PPL events range from a pre-season League Cup to a Pro Profile Combine to a select Touring Team which can potentially launch a player’s career forward.

Affiliated with US Soccer, sanctioned by USSSA, and a member of NISA Nation, the PPL is an independent league providing professional pathway options for younger players as well as collegiate opportunities too. It offers an assortment of avenues for aspiring professionals in a competitive and development setting based on high levels of exposure to different aspects of the game of soccer. For more information, visit and follow on Instagram at @pioneerpremierleague.



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