The Miami Herald - Sunday, October 28th, 2001

A North Miami man has turned his passion for soccer into a thriving international business. Allister Roper, a former professional player, now retired, is president and CEO of 4Tors, Inc., a company dedicated to staging customized soccer tours for amateur and pro teams in the U.S. and abroad.

"Soccer has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember," said Roper. "My enthusiasm for the game led me to pursue a career playing professionally, which was exciting and afforded me a great deal of experience and exposure. When I retired, I started 4 Tors to make the dream of playing soccer competitively a reality for children and adults alike."

According to Roper, the name 4 Tors is German in origin, a tribute to his time playing abroad. "In German, tor means goal, as in a soccer goal" Roper said. "I chose the name not only because it's a catchy acronym, but because for a goal to be scored in soccer, things have to happen perfectly and with lots of coordination, much like the design of all our tours. For this reason, I like to think that we are not just one goal, but four goals better than our competition."

Originally from Jamaica, Roper played professionally as a defender since 1992 in England, Austria and South Florida before retiring in early 2000. Searching for ways to remain active in South Florida's diverse soccer community after retirement, he came up with the concept for 4 Tors and began soliciting his first clients soon after. At just under a year in business, 4 Tors boasts an impressive client list including St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale.

The school's girls' soccer team recently returned from a 4Tors soccer excursion in Denmark to play in the prestigious Dana Cup. An experience St. Thomas coach Carlos Giron says the girls will never forget.

"It's one thing for these girls to play here locally," said Giron. "But it's a totally different thing for them to have the experience of playing abroad. They loved it."

In choosing 4 Tors to plan the 11-day excursion, Giron's first priority was cost. "We looked at a lot of companies when we decided to take the girls abroad. Sometimes, just the airfare alone can run into the thousands. But with 4 Tors, when Allister made his proposal, he was able to bring the cost of the trip for the entire team down to something we all could afford without compromising the quality of the trip or the experience for the girls."

The St. Thomas girls' team reached the finals of the Dana Cup, losing to a team from Denmark. According to Giron, this is an experience the girls needed to have for their growth both individually and as a team.

Although 4 Tors has the endorsement of St. Thomas Aquinas and other clients, the company faces stiff competition from more established companies based in Europe and the Americas, meccas for the sport, something that Roper is not worried about.

"With most touring company relentlessly chasing the all-mighty dollar at the expense of the kids, a lot of the finer details of tours often gets overlooked," Roper said. "A good example of this is that while other tour companies cut cost on travel expenses by having teams make three or four airplane transfers, at 4Tors, we guarantee a maximum of only one transfer, if not a direct flight."

Roper is hoping to beat his competition by not only focusing on the details of a tour, but by providing other services like public relations for his clients as well.

"When 4Tors takes a group abroad or brings a group to South Florida, it's a big event for the group," Roper said. "We work with the local media in several countries and here locally to get the group press, namely articles in the paper as a memento of their trip. That is something most companies don't do."

When he's not busy running 4Tors, Roper plays in local over-30 soccer teams like the Lauderhill Lions, while training his 17-month old son Caleb to become the next Pele or the next CEO of 4Tors.

"Soccer is a big part of my life," Roper said. "And I'd love for my son to pick up where I left off as a professional, so I'm working on it with him at an early age."

Written by Tasha C. Joseph.