World Cup’s kick reaching Mansfield soccer fields

06/30/2014 10:26 AM

06/30/2014 10:27 AM

The impact and excitement for soccer is soaring as the World Cup continues in Brazil over the next few weeks, and Mansfield is no exception.

Soccer in Mansfield has continued to grow in participation, but with the world coming together for the event, interest has hit a fever pitch. The World Cup is played just every four years.

No doubt, the initial success of Team USA has added to the interest level of the international competition.

With registration for the fall league of the Mansfield Soccer Association starting this week, inquiries have been steady, but there has been more interest from those new to the local association.

Traci Bender, Mansfield Soccer Association staff representative, said calls to their office have been increasing and close to 1,500 people are expected to join the fall league of the association.

“We’ve had walk-ins and calls every day from people anxious to get started,” Bender said. “We’re seeing an increase from those that have not already been involved. The World Cup has increased the level of interest.”

The Mansfield Revolution soccer team – a locally sponsored team for boys and girls in first grade through high school – has also seen peripheral interest as a result of the world-wide competition.

Heath Wakeland, Revolution head coach, said his team’s tryouts are just on the horizon and although the participants for his teams are predominantly returners, there is a high level of interest he’s seeing across the community.

“There’s already a buzz about soccer in general,” Wakeland said. “The World Cup has helped raise the level of interest in general and there’s more of an excitement to get out in the street or in the yard to play soccer.”

Much of the increased interest level, he noted, is from those newly exposed to the sport.

“I’ve talked to a few people, some from church, who call me with questions regarding the rules, for example,” said Wakeland. “The general awareness is up, especially from people that wouldn’t normally watch soccer, and they’re going to watch parties. They haven’t been normally involved (in the sport) but it’s become a multicultural event.”

Wakeland noted that many “football families” with younger children are among those with an American intrigue of the other fútbol. They are even recording the U.S. games and watching them together as a family, Wakeland said.

“People want to know if starting their 3-year-old is too soon, or they have other questions,” Wakeland said. “How early should I start my child?” Wakeland said he’s asked often. “Parents like the sport because maybe they played it when they grew up or they want to put their kids in it because it’s a sport that keeps moving.”

For parents with kids in soccer, Bender said the soccer association is also launching a new program to keep mom and dad in shape while their child practices soccer.

The “iFit not iSit” program will allow adults to participate in a fitness program during a six-week opportunity at the same location as the soccer practices.

The Mansfield Soccer Association will conduct the program, led by a professional trainer, for $40.

Information regarding the iFit not iSit program or the fall league soccer season is at www.mansfieldsoccer.org, or call 817-473-1177.

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