West Roxbury Youth Soccer Season Kicks Off
Three leagues will call Millennium Park home this season.
Millennium Park saw more than a thousand young athletes take to its fields as West Roxbury's youth soccer season kicked off Saturday.
Both Parkway United Soccer's travel teams and Parkway Youth Soccer's recreational teams saw action throughout the day. Roxbury Latin's soccer squad also practiced on the fields from 11-1.
"It's just a great park for soccer," Parkway United president Chris Harttman said. "Part of what we do is make sure Millennium Park is a great place for people all over the Boston area to come play soccer."
Hartmann, who is entering his second season as president, outlined some of the goals of West Roxbury based youth soccer this season. In addition to PYS and PUS, a third league – the Hammer Football Club, part of New England's prestigious Maple League which features players across the Northeast who may have a chance to be scholarship-level soccer players – will also call Millennium Park home this autumn.
"We're building the organization and bringing in more volunteers to take on a number of roles," he said. "In the meantime, we're hoping to keep bringing in more kids."
This past World Cup in South Africa might have built excitement for the game amongst players in the area, Hartmann suggested.
"More than past World Cups, young players were widely exposed to the United States team and the international superstars," he said. "When I was a kid, we had one World Cup game on TV. Now you have every one."
Hartmann has noticed more excitement developing around the game as a schoolteacher, too: "When I was first starting out, you'd see kids in the schools wearing their Celtics or Patriots jerseys. Now you see a lot of soccer jerseys."
"And it shows on the field, too," he adds. "You see the kids trying things they saw the superstars doing on TV. You see bicycle kicks. A few years ago, you'd never see that. It's also something the kids are still talking about. Who was better, [semifinalists] Spain or the Netherlands, all that stuff."
The Hammer Football Club will particularly look to capitalize on soccer's international appeal. Hank George, who played professionally in Greece, will run the Hammer League. The League will be regional and, as such, its roster will mostly feature urban-based players.
Parkway United puts 10 teams that feature the 12 top players between both genders at each age group into competition against neighboring towns. Parkway Youth features more than 1,000 players playing at the co-educational recreational levels throughout five leagues separated by age.
"Some kids, depending on how many teams they're on, play six games a week," Hartmann says. "Some kids play just twice. We give everybody a chance to play, we make sure it's fun for everybody, and we make sure all the kids are playing at the right level of competition."