Area kids get a kick out of soccer

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Any doubts as to the strength of support for soccer in this area have been answered by the hundreds players, parents and coaches who have gathered every Sunday behind Morgantown Elementary school for the past three weeks to compete in one of several Natchez Youth Soccer Organization leagues.

Participants range in age from under 6 years old to18-year-olds, with fitness and fun being the pervasive elements taught regardless of age.

&8220;We stress the importance of teamwork and cardiovascular fitness,&8221; coach Shelton Hand said. &8220;In this day and age of video games, it&8217;s hard to find activities that are healthy and enjoyable enough for kids to get them out of the house and doing something.&8221;

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Hand coaches a team and is organizer for the under 10 league, but he is just one of several individuals who, would like to see the sport grow in the Miss-Lou and is actively doing his part to see that their vision is carried out.

Dennis Hogue runs the under 8 league, where the same principles of fun and fitness reign supreme.

&8220;The basic skills associated with the sport such as ball skills as well as things like sportsmanship are the things we try to push,&8221; Hogue said. &8220;At this level, the kids are still learning the little things.&8221;

In Hogue&8217;s league the little things mean the value of teamwork as well as the basic skills of kicking, dribbling, passing and shooting.

Hogue said that while there is some strategy involved in the coaching of a team, parents who have little or no knowledge of the strategy involved have performed well as coaches.

While coaching can be both a rewarding and trying experience, some parents find that just watching their child play to be all the reward they need.

&8220;It&8217;s fun seeing your child running around for an hour and grinning the whole time,&8221; Brandt Dick, a parent said. &8220;The coaches are great. I think that they all have the right amount of intensity for this level. Soccer teaches the kids the importance of exercise and being a part of a team.&8221;

Erin Sessions has a son and daughter, who play in the league and said that in addition to fitness and teamwork her children are learning some valuable life skills.

&8220;They learn about teamwork, but more importantly they learn things like the fact that you can&8217;t be selfish, how to follow directions and realizing that you don&8217;t always win,&8221; Sessions said.

It&8217;s lessons like those that are the reason for the leagues success, but many spectators cite that soccer is a fun sport to watch.

Louise Buckles came out to watch her granddaughter Amber Stevens play, and left with a newly found appreciation for a sport she had never seen before.

&8220;She is a real live wire,&8221; Buckles said. &8220;This was my first game to watch, but I don&8217;t think it&8217;ll be my last.&8221;