Youth soccer league hopes for large turnout this season

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2001

Despite ignorance from Americans, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Martin Barillas and the Natchez Youth Soccer Association (NYSA) are trying to make the sport as popular in this area.

&uot;We want to show people it’s here for good,&uot; said Barillas. &uot;We’re trying to make it grow.&uot;

Barillas heads the registration campaign for local soccer players. From now until July 28, players can sign up at the downtown Sports Center for $50. The fee includes a uniform and insurance.

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&uot;In August, we’ll start choosing teams and start practicing,&uot; Barillas said. &uot;The season will start in September, when school starts.&uot;

The NYSA has existed for 10 years, and strides have been made. More players are joining the ranks every year; Natchez, Cathedral and Trinity Highs now field teams; and Cathedral has held a soccer camp for the past three years. But Barillas hopes the league will lead to bigger and better things.

&uot;We’d like to see soccer, in some form or fashion, go all year round,&uot; Barillas said. &uot;Eventually we want a traveling team, either within the state or out of it.&uot;

The NYSA is focusing on younger players right now because most of the older children in the area are already involved in other sports.

More than 400 kickers are expected to take the field at Morgantown Elementary School this fall. Players must be 4 years old as of Aug. 1.

The age limit on the league is 19, but those 19-year olds must be in high school.

There will be leagues for all age groups. Games will be played at night during the middle of the week.

Barillas and league officials are looking for coaches and referees. The Mississippi Youth Soccer Association will hold a coaching and refereeing clinic before the season starts.