It has been five years since Greenwood County Parks and Recreation has offered youth soccer. That will change beginning in Spring 2014.
Greenwood County Parks and Recreation director Tripp May told council that the county would be entering into an agreement with the International Elite Soccer Academy to provide youth soccer for players age 4-12 beginning next spring. The county will allow IESA to use the fields at the civic center, Ninety Six and Ware Shoals. IESA will be held to the maximum registration fee on $50 for participants.
May told council at their administration and finance committee meeting that the travel requirements for playing in other soccer leagues, such as the Toros or the Greenwood Family YMCA, were too great for many families, particularly in the outer reaches of the county. May said that many players were forced to stop playing altogether.
“I think this is a great idea,” county manager Toby Chappell told council. “I think these are the kind of partnerships the county is looking for when we have gaps in services, we find an agency that provides those services to partner with. I think this is the kind of thing we need to do more of in the future.”
May said there were more than 330 participants the last time the county ran a youth soccer league, which was only for ages 8-12. May said he continue to receive calls about youth soccer.
“Our goal is to get people to the parks,” May said. “We can do this by giving them choices. Not every kid wants to play football, baseball or basketball. We need variety. By partnering with another agency, we have found a way we do this without any cost to the county.”
IESA essentially offers three levels of competition through their league. They have a beginners level, a recreational level and a competitive level. All coaches teach to one philosophy and either have or are working toward earning their United States Soccer Federation coaching license.
“We are very pleased to partner with Greenwood County to offer additional opportunities to the kids in our community,” said Ken Davis, executive director of IESA. “It’s a great opportunity. To develop top soccer talent we have found that it happens best with partnerships between organizations like IESA and counties.”