By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
Each week, hundreds of Roosevelt and Curry County children burn off energy and learn life-long lessons as they run up and down area soccer fields in the American Youth Soccer Organization.
According to AYSO regional commissioner Jolene Nauman, approximately 350 children from 4 to 13 play on about 50 teams.
“It’s a lot of work to get everything set up,” Nauman said. “But to see them … just having a good time and they score their first goal and they’re putting their hands in the air and just whooping and having a good time, it’s worth it to see their faces when they leave the field.”
Nauman’s been involved in AYSO since her now college-aged son was 5 years old.
“They learn the sport, (which is) one of the fastest growing sports in America,” Nauman said. “They’re involved in a sport that’s growing. They get exercise and they learn teamwork.”
Isaac Carrasco, 8, is in his second year of playing AYSO soccer. He plays on the Stars team in the boys Portales 6-8 year-old league.
“I like that you get to kick the ball a lot,” Isaac said. “(I want to play) until I grow up to eighth grade.”
He also revealed his plans once he gets into eighth grade.
“(I’ll) play pro,” he said.
“It keeps him active,” Isaac’s dad, Kenner Carrasco, said. “He’s running around. Just the activity, just the fact that it gives him constant exercise.”
Pam Welch is a soccer grand-mom, watching her 5-year-old granddaughter, Kimberly Rains, practice Tuesday afternoon at the Portales soccer fields.
“She loves it,” Welch said. “She’s very competitive.”
Welch also explained the benefits her granddaughter will get from playing soccer.
“I think sports is very important because it keeps them occupied, it keeps them active, it keeps them out of trouble,” Welch said. “It teaches them how to interact with other kids and teamwork.”
Leo Lovett is the coach for the boys 6-and-under Sharks.
“AYSO is a great organization because especially with the 6-and-under (teams) they teach them teamwork skills at a very young age, which as we know, will be used the rest of their lives,” Lovett said. “(AYSO’s) main priority is sportsmanship, to have fun and to learn the game. At this age, we’re not out to win or lose; we don’t keep score. It’s to teach fundamentals, because this will help them to enjoy the game as they get older.”
Portales resident Michael Borden’s 6-year-old son, Dillon, is in his first year playing youth soccer.
“He has fun with his friends,” Borden said. “AYSO isn’t too competitive and that’s what I like about it. We’re just out here to have fun and to learn the sport.”
“I like to kick the ball,” Dillon said. “The (games) are really, really, really fun.”
Clovis and Portales AYSO teams play on Saturday’s alternating between the Clovis and Portales soccer fields.
“It is so much fun watching them play,” Borden said. “I think it’s going to help him a lot.”