There may be snow on the ground, but the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA) is gearing up for the 2019 season.
Registration is already taking place for the go-to summer sport. KEYSA saw more than 500 athletes signed up for soccer last year.
“It can start off to be a very simple game for the younger kids, and then as you progress and learn a bit more about tactics … as you grow you get a better understanding of the game, and it’s great for athleticism because you are always moving, always running,” said Chuck Downie, house representative, KEYSA.
Moir Park will soon be filled with the sounds of laughter from the athletes running back-and-forth as they play soccer.
“For the most part it’s a summer sport and we have a fantastic facility here at Moir Park, it’s one of the better soccer facilities in the Kootenay’s for sure, if not the best,” said Downie.
There are two streams of soccer for kids within the association, REP/Development and house.
In the house stream, they have teams from U4 all the way to U12 and a less structured program from U13 to U16.
“The house is focused on developmental, and anybody can play basically. It’s all ages, all skill level for the house side,” said Downie.
“As well as training for the kids, it’s also training for a lot of the coaches, because that’s where a lot of the coaches get their start too. It’s kind of like a feeder program.”
There is no experience necessary for the kids who play in the house stream, and they can start at whatever age they like.
After a successful season last year, KEYSA is bringing back the U4 division.
“It’s just for introductory soccer, so it’s really basic soccer skills and short scrimmages. At that kind of age, there isn’t a lot of focus on competition or anything like that. It’s really focused on kids enjoying themselves and getting touches on the ball,” said Downie.
The development teams start at U10 to U12, while REP teams are U13 to U18.
“It’s more of a commitment, there are more practices, there are travel and extra fees. Obviously, it’s more of a commitment to play on the REP/Development side,” said Downie.
Soccer has always been a good summer sport for children and does not require a lot of equipment.
“It’s a fairly simple game,” said Downie. “Really all you need is cleats and shin pads, everything else is supplied. You don’t need a lot of other equipment.”
In the last four years, Downie also notes KEYSA has been using an alliance with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“We have a technical director from the Whitecaps who helps us to manage all of the technical aspects of our program. So, a lot of the coaching and interactions with the players is guided by the Whitecaps. That’s made a huge difference to the soccer around here,” he said.
The soccer season wouldn’t be what it is without all the corporate sponsors that contribute to the house league.
“We have really good local support from the local businesses that sponsor the jerseys and everything, it’s a big part of it,” said Downie.
More information about registration and details about the league can be found at the KEYSA website.