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Fielding an indoor team
A court replaces grass for the youngest kids learning to play, and most of all, enjoy, soccer.
By MIKE CAMUNAS, Times Correspondent
Published December 21, 2007
These players have an audience already as they learn to kick and run with a soccer ball in the gym of James P. Gills YMCA in Trinity earlier this month. Their biggest challenge? Learning not to use their hands, says YMCA sports director Tim Pemberton.
[David Degner | Times]
It can be chaotic.
The 4- to 6-year-olds race up and down the gym floor at James P. Gills branch of the YMCA of the Suncoast every Tuesday evening. They're a clutter - a pack of yellow, red, green and blue. And they're all chasing after one neon soccer ball.
"Really, this is more about learning soccer than anything else," said sports director Tim Pemberton, who oversees the soccer program. "We want them to learn soccer, understand some of rules and, of course, have some fun."
Amid the hectic indoor soccer scene, the kids are learning to play with teammates or using these games to sharpen their skills.
"I like to kick the ball," said Jake Sabina, 4. "My dad taught me how to kick the ball and play soccer, but I like to score because then I can celebrate."
Added 4-year-old Dylan Bromberg: "Kicking is my favorite part. I like it because it's what your supposed to do."
Scoring can come easily for some players, who might take it coast-to-coast on the court to score. Other kids, ones in their first go-around with the sport, are still learning the best way to get a shot on goal.
All the while, they're trying to remember not to use their hands.
"That's the biggest thing," Pemberton said. "We have to try to get them not to use their hands. They forget, we remind them - we want them to play is all."
Take Craig Bromberg, who coaches his son, Dylan, on the yellow team. Dylan plays outdoor soccer during the season, but Craig uses indoor soccer as a way keep Dylan into soccer all year.
"This is his first time playing indoor, and I'm coaching because it's a good way for me spend time with my son," Craig said. "There really isn't any (organized) soccer, but it's about learning to play with each other as teammates."
They may not be the closest of teammates, but they still high-five and laugh. They smile and celebrate goals. And there are looks of concern and worry when a teammate goes down in pain. That's because, as children, they fall, and even at indoor soccer, the kids bump their heads. Plus, the floor is hard.
"It hurt when I fell down earlier," Jake said. "But it happens a lot."
Jake took a few spills, but there was only one time when he started to cry. He took a short breather, only to return and register a few shots on goal.
And like Jake, Lance Brown, 6, has used indoor soccer to learn the sport and master its rules and intricacies.
"He's been coming here since he was 3. He just loves soccer," said Lance's dad, Mitch Brown. "It's taught him fundamentals because now he knows offense and defense. He can pass and kick, and he can do it all because he knows it now. ... He knows a lot about soccer since playing here."
And that's exactly what Pemberton wants these kids to learn.
"I want them to have a good experience," Pemberton said. "I want them to learn soccer and the sports, but we want them to learn it so they keep coming back for soccer - come back for anything."