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Photos by Ben Mikesell | The Journal Gazette
Camden Seitz, 2, participates in a soccer drill as part of the Mini & Little Kickers soccer camp run by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. The program is aimed to teach 2- to 4-year olds the basic fundamentals of soccer.
Soccer for youngsters

Programs abound for kids

Players of all skill levels can find the league for them

Matthew Mullen, 3, dribbles around cones in a drill at Sonrise United Methodist Church as part of the Mini & Little Kickers camp.

It has been hard to miss some exciting soccer lately – that heart-stopping 86th-minute headed-in goal by 21-year-old sub John Brooks that helped the U.S. team top Ghana, the torso-to-foot juggling act as the Germans beat Argentina in the World Cup finals.

Finally, says Greg Mauch, soccer’s getting some big-time exposure.

“One thing that has been missing all these years is coverage. We needed kids to see coverage of the sport at the top level of the world, (like) they can see LeBron James every night of the week,” says Mauch, former director of coaching for the Fort Wayne Sport Club, which runs youth soccer programs.

Now that your favorite youngsters have seen how cool soccer can be, here’s how to get them off the couch and into “the beautiful game.”

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation. The tiniest of tykes get their chance to play during fall sessions of Mini-Kickers (age 2) and Little Kickers (ages 3 and 4). For information, call 427-6467 or go to www.fortwayneparks.org. Next spring, look for those programs plus Kickin’ Kids (ages 5 to 7). And all those plus Big Kickers (ages 6 to 10) will take place next summer. All programs are for boys and girls.

Upward Soccer. This program at area churches teaches sportsmanship and values while maximizing playing time for participants regardless of skill level. Programs typically start in spring. But limited openings exist at Grace Pointe Church of the Nazarene, 6611 Mayhew Road, for age 4 through sixth grade (call 485-2110) for games beginning Aug. 16. Faith Community Church of God in Huntington has player evaluations for a fall league for age 4 through seventh-graders Aug. 9 (call 260-359-2530). More information is at www.upward.org.

Fort Wayne Sport Club. This local sponsor of the area’s National Soccer Festival has teams for boys and girls ages 4 through 8 called Future Stars and coached by local college players. A Youth Select Academy is for 8- to 12-year-olds, and a competitive, non-travel league is available for 9- to 14-year-olds, with fall and spring seasons ending in tournaments. Fall registrations are now beginning, says Josh Capps, president. For information, go to www.eteamz.com/fwyouthselectsoccer.

Whitley County YMCA: Fall recreational/skill development league programs for kids from age 4 to eighth grade are accepting registrants through Aug. 18. The Y is at 950 E. Van Buren St., Columbia City. Check www.fwymca.org or call Kameron Bailey at 260-244-9622 or email kameron_bailey@fwymca; look for summer programs next year at other area YMCAs

The Plex: The Plex North, 1807 E. California Road, and The Plex South, 5702 Engle Road, have extensive programs for children. Wee Bears (ages 2 to 5) get out on the field with their parents, and 5- and 6-year olds drill and play for a half-hour each by themselves. United Cadets are for 6- to 14-year olds.

Youths with high skill can join a co-ed travel league beginning at around age 9 or 10. Fall and winter programs are indoors; a schedule will be at www.plexsports.com by the end of the month. This summer, The Plex also is hosting two sessions of co-ed soccer camps for kids age 6 to 16 run by the Beasley National Soccer School affiliated with World Cup American star DaMarcus Beasley. Registrations are being accepted for the next session July 29 to Aug.1 at 496-9999.

rsalter@jg.net

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