400 youngsters fill Chester YMCA’S soccer complex

With the Fort Lee expansion, Chester YMCA Sports Director Brian Walters reports an upward trend in registration for this fall’s recreational soccer league.

“We have nearly 400 children involved in the program thanks to the generosity of so many volunteer coaches, referees and contributors,” Walters said. “For today’s kids, soccer is so much more a mainstream sport than with previous generations.”

Judging from the fields in front of the Y facility, it appears that field space, not the number of participants, is the major challenge faced by the program. Games are played each Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. Three and 4 year olds start the day off with their first exposure to the game. Coaches are extremely hands on with this age group as they walk the youngsters through the basic skills and rules of the game. Volunteer coaching is offered by some of the area’s most knowledgeable coaches, such as Jon Gates. In addition, teenagers are involved through the Y’s leadership program. One of those officiating on a regular basis is Bailey Bridge eighth grader Kodi Bland. “The little kids are so much fun to work with,” Kodi said.

The fall soccer program runs through the months of September and October. The young athletes have one practice session a week and play games on Saturdays. Ages run from 3-13. Prior to each game, the referees and coaches lead players is the Y Sports Pledge, in which the athletes promise to “do their best, be team players, respect opponents, teammates and officials, and improve themselves in spirit, mind and body.” Parents also sign a code of conduct emphasizing the same values.

The fall season will be followed by an indoor season this winter, and then it is back outside for spring soccer. Information can be obtained at the Y or by contacting Brian Walters at 748-9622 ext. 470 or at waltersb@ymcarichmond.org.

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