Alive and well: Soccer is king in these parts

“Americans don’t like soccer,” NPR sports commentator Frank Deford said the other day on Morning Edition. “We know that,” he repeated emphatically. “Americans do not like soccer.”
Well, I don’t know which Americans this guy is talking about. At our house, there is no other sport. My guys play soccer— indoors and out— all year round. They even got up at 6:30 in the morning during summer vacation to watch World Cup games on television.
My kids aren’t the only soccer fans around here, either. The Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle (SOCA) supports more than 3,500 players (children and adults) each season. And Piedmont Family YMCA’s Y-Rookie Soccer helps new trainees ages 3-7 learn all the basics.
Not long ago, some of these little kickers got together to help local author and photographer Peggy Harrison show the world just how much fun this sport is. Her new book, We Love Soccer, features cherubic photos of local five- and six-year olds in shorts and shin guards having a terrific time dribbling, trapping, and passing the classic black and white ball on familiar neighborhood playing fields. 
 To celebrate both the sport and the publication of this homegrown book, the Virginia Discovery Museum is hosting “Soccer Mania,” an event for fans of all ages. Harrison will read and sign her book (proceeds from the sales will benefit the museum). There will be crafts to make and a drawing for a new soccer ball. Two members of the UVA women’s soccer team will also be available on the grass at the amphitheater, running drills and offering coaching advice for neophytes.
So despite what the guy on the radio says, soccer is alive and well, at least in this part of America.

Soccer Mania is free at the Virginia Discovery Museum September 28 from 1-2:30pm. The museum is on the east end of the Downtown Mall. For more information, call 977-1025. SOCA’s number is 975-5025. Call Jay Shively at Piedmont Family YMCA 974-9622.

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