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Soccer going indoors with new league

County youth wishing to play soccer indoors during the winter months have had little choice but to travel elsewhere in the past, but the sport is getting a boost with the creation of an indoor soccer league, a first for Halifax County.

Marcus Hargrave, Executive Director of the YMCA of Halifax County-South Boston and a coach with the Halifax County High School varsity boys soccer team, will help direct the league along with several other volunteers.

Signups are under way for the league, which will consist of four teams with eight players each in the 10-13-year-old age group.

Boys and girls are eligible to participate, according to Hargrave.

The season starts Dec. 1 and runs for 10 sessions through Feb. 16, with games at the Mary Bethune Complex gym.

The league has received an enthusiastic response thus far, according to Hargrave, who was approached by a group of parents seeking a way to provide additional soccer experience for their children during the winter months.

“They’ve been going to Martinsville to play indoor there or Lynchburg, and we thought there was a way to do something locally for the kids so the parents wouldn’t have to drive that extra hour to provide experience for the kids,” explained Hargrave.

“We’re starting out real small with ages 10-13,” added Hargrave.  “That’s when kids are really starting to look at whether they want to play in high school and have aspirations to play in college.

“A lot of leagues start with instruction, usually from 4-8 year-olds, 13 is really when they start to get competitive, and we want to give them every opportunity.”

Some indoor facilities have turf,
including some in Lynchburg and Richmond, Hargrave pointed out, but the youth here will play on the basketball court at the Mary Bethune Complex, with four players to a side as opposed to 11 for outdoor soccer.

“It’s a lot faster game, less physical, and the games are shorter.  As opposed to 90 minutes, you’re playing for 32 minutes (eight-minute quarters),” Hargrave explained.

“You get a lot of touches on the ball, and it gives you greater opportunities to improve your skills.”

He added there would be no problem in finding 32 boys and girls who want to participate, judging by the reaction he’s seen thus far.

“There are so many families who are wanting to play, so that’s why we stuck with a 32-player limit, just to see if we can get the kinks worked out of it,” Hargrave said.

With rules changes at the high school level allowing sports teams to work out literally year-round, the bar has been raised, Hargrave noted.

“With the change in rules at the high school, a lot of kids play football, basketball and soccer on a year-round basis,” he said.

“They’re playing all the time, so if Halifax wants to compete at that level we need to give more opportunities to our soccer players to participate in year-round activities.”

Hargrave, his staff and a group of volunteers from participating families will conduct the league.

“It will fall underneath the YMCA umbrella.  We’re taking care of the administrative needs of the program,” said Hargrave.

“We would encourage anybody who’s interested to sign up sooner than later.

“It’s going to be a competitive league, and we’ll have someone certified in CPR on hand for each game to take care of any small injuries that may occur.

“We don’t anticipate any injuries, but we want to be safe.”

“Players will play no less than half the game, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to increase the soccer experience in Halifax County,” Hargrave pointed out

“We’ll make sure the teams are evenly balanced and the first two sessions we’ll be evaluating the talent and make sure of that.”