Matriarch of local soccer industry dies at 74
A pioneer and continued advocate for popularizing soccer in the Chicago area is being mourned by many in the industry she forged, after her death this month.
Christine Mary Richardson, 74, of the Elgin area, and her husband, Peter, built the Northern Illinois Soccer League, the Soccer City Palatine indoor facility and the Sockers FC Chicago program based there.
The couple moved with their three young sons in 1974 from their native England to Hanover Park when Peter’s sales job for a Swedish cutting tool company was transferred to the Chicago area, youngest son Philip said.
Peter had previously played semiprofessional soccer in Europe and was looking for a way to use what he knew to help raise his sons in their new environment.
“He thought, ‘I have three boys. What am I going to do with them? How am I going to keep them entertained and out of trouble?'” Philip said.
With his wife’s help, the Northern Illinois Soccer League was created with just four teams the next year. It’s since grown to well over 1,000 teams.
“This is basically my mom and my dad doing this together,” Philip said. “My dad was the idea man and my mom was the administrator. The way they built this league was through personal contacts.”
Those contacts just grew and grew over the decades, with their sons joining them in leading the three businesses that resulted — the league, the indoor facility in Palatine and Sockers FC Chicago.
The entire Countryside Funeral Home and Crematory at 950 S. Bartlett Road in Bartlett has been booked for Christine’s visitation from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 31, to accommodate the 300 to 400 of those friends from throughout the years who are expected to attend, Philip said.
Christine’s involvement in the organization went from personally laminating the passes for events to the days of online registration, lasting until she got sick in November, her son added.
Along the way, there were so many other aspects of the business she took charge of, from running the concession stand at Soccer City Palatine to organizing the birthday parties held there.
“They truly were pioneers,” Philip said of his parents.
Christine’s survivors include her husband and sons, 11 grandchildren and the families of her brother, brother-in-law and eight nieces and nephews in England.
After Thursday’s visitation, a private service for the family will be held Friday, June 1.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to be sent to the American Cancer Society at cancer.org.
For more information about the visitation, call (630) 289-7575 or visit countrysidefuneralhomes.com.