By Seth Daniel
The South End Soccer League has been placing children and teens on the soccer field since 2008, and though they started with just 40 players, they now boast more than 400 players and are hoping to expand their older traveling teams.
The league brings kids and teens from the South End and nearby areas into the world of soccer, and now in their second year, the traveling teams are getting attention as organizers try to create a pipeline from their younger leagues, while also bringing in new players who may not have known about the league’s traveling teams.
“It’s more about giving every kid the opportunity to play the most important sport in the world,” said Caroline Foscato, league director. “We would like to see more competitive play in the city for kids that don’t have access to, or can’t afford a club team.”
The league makes available the game to anyone who wants to play, for free (with a suggested donation), and never turns down anyone. Foscato says the idea behind the league is to bring the community together and “break barriers. Kids will make friends with other kids that they might have never meet.”
U14 Boys South End Rush Splash Coach Carlos Arellano, now in his fourth year coaching, believes the new travel teams will lead to better players and eventually South End Club teams being able to compete with other state club teams.
The travel teams, now in the second year, are becoming successful for the league.
“We had tryouts back in June to select players for the travel teams. We actually ended up having to create two U14 boys teams,” said Arellano.
Kids from 7-14 can try out for the travel teams or play in the in-house league that plays and practices at Rotch Field.
“We are maxed out in the fields we have now,” said Foscato. “Funding is also an issue. We just need to build another 10 soccer fields and we’ll be all set…For us to continue we need more funding and help.”
Currently, funding for the league comes from Boston University, Northeastern University, Ink Block and the Police Athletic League, as well as personal donations from parents and families.
“This team has been here a couple years now, and each year it gets bigger and better,” said John Everly, father of a player on the U14 girls Rush team. He believes the league opens players to possibilities that didn’t exist before, and keeps them off the street.
“As awareness for the league grows, more people are playing,” he added.
This past Saturday, Sept. 10, marked the assessment day for the in-house league at Rotch Field, and also the first day of games for the travel teams.
Kids aged 5-13 can play in the in-house league and kids from 7 to high school age can play in the travel teams, with high school age kids playing in a league partnership with America Scores teams.
A fundraiser will be held on Nov. 8, from 5-8 p.m. at the Beehive on Tremont Street to raise money for the league.
Tickets to the fundraiser are available through Eventbrite.