Youth soccer leagues expand into fall

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— Summers are short lived in the Yampa Valley, so the leadership of the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association has decided to take advantage of fall.

"We've had quite a few requests to add the younger groups to our fall season." Rob Bohlmann said. Bohlmann is the director of coaching and player development for the SSYSA. He said offering the younger divisions in the summer and fall will bring Steamboat more in line with the way other leagues are set up in the state.

The association will expand its programs to include fall leagues for players younger than 6 and 8 for the first time. The leagues will complement the development leagues (U-9, U-10) and competitive leagues ( U-11 and up), which are already rooted in the fall season.

"It's kind of experimental," Bohlmann said about the younger groups. "We are going to put it out there and see if the community will support fall soccer for these ages or tell us that it's just too much."

The deadline to sign children up for the U-6, U-8, U-9 and U-10 leagues is Aug. 15. Sabrina James, the association's administrative assistant, said parents can go online at www.steamboat-soccer.com and sign up until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday or stop by Christy Sports in Central Park Plaza to fill out the forms. James said parents should mail in payments (even if they will after the deadline) or drop them off at Christy Sports.

The cost to take part in the U-6 and U-8 youth recreational leagues is $35 prior to the registration deadline. The developmental U-9 and U-10 leagues also are $35 plus a tournament fee.

After Aug. 15, there is a $30 late fee to sign up for one of the leagues. James said the late fee is in place to encourage parents to sign children up before the deadline so teams can be formed. She said parents who fill out forms online the final day can mail registration fees in after the deadline without a penalty.

The U-6 group will meet for practice Tuesdays and play games Thursdays from Sept. 4 through Sept. 27 at Heritage Park. Games will be three-on-three and teams will not have a goalkeeper.

The idea of the league is to help young players develop the soccer skills they will need down the road. However, it also downplays the competitive aspects of the sport and allows players to grow in a fun, team-oriented environment.

The older U-8 division will practice Monday and play games on Wednesdays at Heritage Park. The season will begin Sept. 3 and run through Sept. 26. Games will be five-on-five. This is the first age division where players are divided into age specific teams and there are goalies.

The league will stress having fun while playing soccer, but it also will introduce players to positions and other key components of the game.

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