Soccer fever is spreading in Warren County.
Participation is up this year in the fall Warren County Soccer League, which began last month. League coordinator Justin Scott says over 330 kids are registered and playing this year, a good sign for things to come in youth soccer.
“Participation has been good. It’s up this year,” said Scott. “The numbers are good. Fall is typically our biggest season. We’re going in the right direction and getting more and more kids involved.”
Saturday is the biggest day of games, with games in all six leagues featured at Pistole Park. The leagues also have been playing on Tuesday and Friday nights, with the midway point in most leagues coming this past Saturday.
So far, Scott is very pleased with how things have gone in the leagues.
“It’s going pretty smooth. We’ve had good weather thus far – we only had one night with rain and it only postponed a portion of the night,” said Scott. “Most of the teams are competing and making it competitive.”
The leagues are split into six age groups, with the youngest being an under-5 league and the oldest going up to U-17. In the two youngest leagues, U-5 and U-7, score isn’t kept as Scott wants the kids focused on learning skills and building a love for the game.
“We don’t do scoring for those leagues. They play 4-on-4 with four 10-minute quarters and the coaches are allowed to be on the field,” said Scott. “They’re focusing on teaching them what defense is and working to transition from defense to offense and moving the ball down the field as a unit.
“More than anything, and this is US soccer’s goal with youth too, we want a lot of touches on the ball and not a lot of stoppage. The ball is flowing and they’re playing. We want them to enjoy it, have fun and learn.”
It seems to be working. The two youngest leagues are packed with players, which make up nearly half of the athletes playing at Pistole Park each Saturday.
“There’s 136 kids in those two leagues and we have a lot of teams. We hope it’ll help us continue to grow,” said Scott.
The older leagues have hit the midway point of their schedules, which feature 8-10 regular season games before a single-elimination tournament. Each league currently is led by an unbeaten squad, which are named after their coach.
In U-8, Team van Vuuren is 5-0. Team Watson/Patrick lead U-10 with a 5-0 record, while Team Romzek is 4-0 in U-12 play. Team Laxson headlines the U-17 league with a 5-0 mark.
With good weather, Scott believes the tournaments should begin the first week of November.
While everything seems to be running smoothly, the league officials would love to continue to grow the league. Taking out co-ed leagues, which is how each age division is currently set up, is one big change that could be achieved with more participation.
“We’d love to get to the point where we could split them, but we’re not there yet,” said Scott.
It may only be a matter of time if soccer continues to attract more and more athletes.