Interview by Mary Martin. Photos by Hunter Lacey.
Today we are sharing an interview with Bob Peinado, founder of FORO Sports Club. With a focus on creating space where people from all cultures can play the sports they love, FORO is building deep community in Dallas. As he leads his family-run business, Bob is focused on welcoming everyone who needs a place to play.
Tell us about where you grew up and how giving back was a part of your family dynamic.
I am a proud second generation American of Mexican decent. My maternal great grandfather was a leader in the Mexican revolution of 1910. The Revolution provoked both sides of my family to seek refuge in El Paso Texas. My father and his brothers established a successful engineering and land development company while always contributing back to the city of El Paso by participating in many boards and public positions. Their work ethic, creativity, entrepreneurship and civic involvement have guided me through my public and private endeavors.
When did you first encounter the world of competitive sports?
I grew up playing tennis and have always enjoyed following the pro circuit. While working and living in Mexico City as the managing director of Trammel Crow of Mexico, I became very interested in Professional Soccer. FORO has introduced me to the worlds of lacrosse, beach volleyball, flag football and Flex Football, a new, revolutionary format of flag football!
Would you share your story of how you started FORO Sports Club and how it is growing?
In the early 2000s I helped FAMSA, a Monterrey, Mexico-based furniture store expand into the United States ultimately opening over 50 locations. I travelled from New York to Miami, from Chicago to San Francisco, and from San Diego to Brownsville to research the latino markets.
I learned that the latino market not only lacked quality and modern retail projects but even more important, they lacked community and recreation spaces essential for the development of safe and healthy communities.
100% of the city parks departments that I visited commented on their need for soccer fields in urban settings that could be self-funded in their operating costs. The City of Dallas alone has needs for 100 more soccer fields to match urban community demands.
In old world countries, communities organize and connect in and around parks in town centers, Piazas in Italy and Plazas, in Latin America. Places where old and young would gather at night to dance, listen to music, play dominos and generally socialize. The places / parks often anchored by a Gazebo were surrounded by the City Hall, banks, retail, medical and apartment buildings. The center of the community and a convenient gathering place.
Initially our concept was called La Plazita, targeting the latino soccer market. In time, we realized that all communities had the same need. So, we rebranded the project as FORO, as in the old Roman Forum. The center of a community where like minded people gather and commune.
In DFW there are over 1,000 ethnic organizations that lack culturally friendly places to play their sports and host their events.
FORO is a collection of products and services for athletes who are passionate for play! At FORO you “Play, Train, Recover.” You can play five core sports on three pro-quality surfaces. You can train with one of our fitness programs and you recover with our future physical therapy, F&B, and event offerings.
We have developed a cost-effective prototype that can be repeated in every community in any market that has a need or desire for it.
We purchased our first site in 2011 and, with the help and cooperation of the City of Dallas, we opened to the public spring of 2018. One year later we now have over 200 youth and 200 adult athletes daily.
We have also started our adult leagues this spring and now have nearly 50 teams playing with a growth rate of 30 teams each month! Within three years we expect to have 18,000 members playing at FORO three times a week. We can’t believe how fast it has grown but we are also so thankful to our community and to everyone that has been part of making FORO the type of space it has become! Our goal is to build three more in DFW and have a total of ten units within five years.
During your time at FORO how have you seen people connect to community?
It is very interesting how each sport has its own community and within these communities you can see diversity and cohesiveness.
I see teams become extended families, working together to compete and win. They cheer and scream when victorious. They cry when they are defeated. During the match, teams are focused on the goal at hand but post-game, the camaraderie and sportsmanship is seen through handshakes, hugs and an exchange of congratulations. All types of people, on the same field competing, screaming, laughing. Together.
The FORO community is taking shape and we could not be more excited to witness it! Players are thanking us for building this one-of-a-kind space. They are abandoning their traditional venues preferring the community feeling and quality of FORO. Recently, a Brazilian team told me that playing at FORO reminds them of playing back home in Rio! The people, the quality, the nature, the atmosphere, the FORO experience.
How has the community at FORO impacted your family?
We are a family business, starting with my 86 year-old father, my wife, my son and my daughters. Everybody contributes to the success of FORO. Through ups and downs, we are incredibly supportive of each other. Seeing FORO become the space we all knew it could be has really been a great thing to experience as a family.
Today we look forward to 4:30 PM, when the kids start showing up. The laughs, whistle blows, ball kicks. The positive energy and optimism is contagious. The adults start to show up at 8:00 PM and again nothing but good energy and appreciation for our contribution to their communities.
My background is corporate real estate between the USA and Latin America. We have participated in major constructions and real estate rollouts. We have traded the boardroom for the fields and the pitch and all of us have been impacted so positively. We meet new people from all social, economic and ethnic backgrounds daily. With all the problems that affect our world right now, the divisiveness, the inequalities and the heaviness, it is refreshing for us to be surrounded by the positivity and values that sports and community can offer. The natural and inherent connectedness between all humankind becomes so clear and strong in the space that FORO has fostered.
Does FORO partner with any nonprofit work in Dallas?
We have worked with DIVA, SCORE, and are currently supporting RivALZ through the Alzheimer’s Association. We are always open to partnerships and developing programs with local nonprofits.
What is your favorite part about living in Dallas?
Dallas offers all of the benefits of a big city (culture, airport, food, medical, education, sports, parks) without losing the connection to the feeling of a close-knit community. DFW is also an incredibly diverse metroplex, full of so many beautiful cultures and people.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.