Middlesboro Parks and Recreation is putting finishing touches on new soccer fields which will give hundreds of children in the Tri-State area a place to practice and play the sport.
Local American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is expecting nearly 300 players from ages 3 to 18 to sign up for the upcoming fall and spring season.
“The mayor and city have been great in terms of leveling out the land and getting this done. It’s very possible we could top 300 this year and see a lot of growth,” said AYSO Tri-State United regional commissioner Lorri Kimbrough.
Currently local AYSO players are traveling to New Tazewell, Knoxville and Harrogate in Tennessee to practice. Now that there is a more localized location for practice, Kimbrough believes there will be a positive impact on the number of children interested in learning to play.
“It’s closer for me and I hope it will bring out more kids that just want to play. For some kids, these fields will be in walking distance so they can just come over and play on the weekends,” said Jennifer Barnwell, treasurer and a AYSO parent.
Officials are hoping to bring a tournament to the city in the future. This will not only benefit local soccer families, but also have a positive impact on tourism revenue for the county.
“We travel for tournaments now and it would be great to see this happen here in the next year or so. It’s no big deal for us to travel somewhere and spend a weekend there, just visiting and making a soccer vacation out of it,” said Kimbrough.
AYSO fees are $45 for eight weeks in the fall and eight weeks in the spring. The uniform cost is $30.
Sign-ups will be at the new field in mid-July or online at www.eayso.org.
Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.