The competition was fierce and wild at the American Youth Soccer Organization games held at the Hamilton school fields Saturday, Sept. 30.
Anza’s local AYSO Region 1641 has 16 teams. All the teams play every Saturday during the season, and the children, parents and coaches are as dedicated to the game as they are to each other.
“It’s been a beautiful process watching the kids learn to play and go from not interested to enthused every day to go out on the field to learn and to also play,” Kayla Freel, whose husband coaches and son plays, said. “They have grown so much in such a short time frame, and watching them progress and get better is once again just beautiful.”
The teams are divided into age groups to ensure fair play.
“There are two teams in the brand-new Playground division, two teams in the 6U (6 and under) division, four teams in the 8U division,” AYSO Regional Commissioner Brooke Blackmore said. “With all of these divisions, players are encouraged and coached to practice touching the ball with their feet and learning the general rules of the game. Ultimately, even without goalies in these divisions, the mission is to score goals. The organization does not keep standings or records of wins and losses as a region. The coaches, players, and parents take care of that aspect.”
“The games are a great way for our parents and residents to get out there and cheer our little ones on,” Tesse Benson, a 6U coach, said enthusiastically. “It makes the community stronger!”
For the divisions that include the older children, the game is taken a little bit more seriously. Wins are important, but so is the teaching of the dynamics of soccer. The main focus of the upper divisions is teamwork and communication.
Player development is one of AYSO’s core philosophies; they take what the children bring to the field and teach them how to use it to the team’s advantage in order to score goals.
Games are held at the Hamilton High School baseball field and Hamilton Middle School athletic field.
Coaches for the AYSO Region 1641 are Daniel Betts, Playground; Chris Freel, Playground; Brian Linderholm, 6U; Tesse Benson, 6U; Garrett Dunn, 8U; Pam Thrapp, 8U; Don Salazar, 8U; Adil and Brittany Nasseer, 8U; Tara Butchart, 10U; Kelli Hacket, 10U; Vicente Ramirez, 10U; Steve Fichtelman, 10U; Brian Blackmore, 14U; Ashley Markert, 14U; Jenny Villalobos, 14U and Belinda Molloy, 14U.
AYSO does not have official sponsors, but the local teams have received donations from many businesses in the community, including Blackmore Electrical, Anza Lions Club, Heritage Well, The Bank of Hemet, Anza Gas, Cali Produce, Anza Electric Cooperative, Circle K, the Boys and Girls Club, Snizzle Leggies, Rubio’s, Kohl’s and Pizza Factory.
“Another aspect of support are the donations received from our sister regions in our area,” Blackmore said. “Bags, balls, cones, goal sets, nets… Our region has been well taken care of and completely blessed by the generosity of all of these entities. And, if you really want to get technical, every volunteer that shows up and helps out to provide a world class soccer experience for these kids have given of their time and energy to make a fun and safe sports program work in Anza.”
The season began at the first part of August and will end Nov. 11. Games begin 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. every Saturday depending on the division. The 14U and 10U teams switch game times biweekly, with one group playing early, 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and the other division playing late, 10:45 a.m. and noon.
For more information on the AYSO program, visit www.ayso1641.org.