Children’s sports venues not up to par

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

My oldest daughter Payton turned four in March, which meant it was time for the rite of passage for most children — playing youth sports.

She had already participated in ballet, so me and my wife thought we’d find a team sport that didn’t have too many rules and would not be that physical.

When an announcement for Natchez Youth Soccer Organization signups came across my desk, we thought that would be the perfect sport for Payton to participate in.

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And it turned out that it has. Payton is on a good team, has a good coach who cares about the kids. She is really enjoying the game and playing with the other children.

However, while she has enjoyed the experience, I was in for a bit of a shock when I got to the location of the first game.

I was told It would be behind Morgantown School. I thought that meant their might be some sort of soccer field behind the school. I wasn’t expecting a complex but a nice field or two would be great.

Silly me. When I got there I discovered that all the teams play their games on a huge open field behind the school.

Lines are drawn to distinguish the actual playing field from the rest of the lot, which includes tall uncut grass, discarded playground equipment and a wooded area which attracts bugs.

Portable goals are put at each end of the field, at least for the younger kids games.

Two things there aren’t are bleachers or any other seating area and bathrooms.

Parents have to either bring their own chairs or get used to standing for however long the game is.

My mother-in-law visited last weekend and Sunday afternoon we went to Payton’s soccer game.

She kept asking about where the game was played and if the field had things like bathrooms, seats or bleachers.

I finally told her that it wasn’t like any soccer facility she had ever seen before, and it turned out it wasn’t.

Now, I’m not blaming the Natchez Youth Soccer Organization for the location of the games. It’s the best they can do with what they have.

The real blame must be put on the Natchez Board of Aldermen and the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

For years, there has been talk of building a sports complex for Natchez and Adams County, but that’s all it has been — just talk.

Little or no action has been taken by anyone. Plans have come and gone as well as mayors, aldermen and supervisors.

However, there remains no respectable sport complex for area children.

Baseball is played on old fields at Duncan Park. Football games are played at high schools and soccer games are played on an empty lot behind a school.

Cities quite a bit smaller than Natchez have built outstanding sports complexes in the past few years.

Those cities seem to have no problems earmarking money to build a sports complex. If they can do it, then why can’t Natchez and Adams County?

But perhaps that is too much to ask of a city that can’t keep its streets adequately paved and a county that can’t keep its hospital out of bankruptcy.

I might not understand all the intricacies behind city and county government, but I know what I see.

And what I see every Tuesday and Sunday is children running around having fun playing soccer on field that would be better suited for cows to graze on.

Come on Natchez and Adams County. You can do better than that.