Soccer for everyone

Published 10:33 pm Friday, June 24, 2011

Christian Jacome, pastor of Chesapeake’s Bible World Church and player/coach on Bible World’s soccer team, goes after a pass in an adult league game at Suffolk Youth Athletic Association Thursday evening. Duane Fuller organized the league this year with registration fees and any donations going to new equipment for the youth leagues at SYAA.

SYAA hosting game for all ages

Duane Fuller’s first season renewing an adult soccer league at Suffolk Youth Athletic Association is a success by all counts, and he set many goals.

Raising funds for the association’s dozens of youth teams, primarily for new equipment all over SYAA’s soccer complex, was one of Fuller’s motivations for heading up a two-month, co-ed soccer league.

Setting a fun, sportsmanlike example for the kids, with parents playing the sport in a positive way, if not always an impressive way, is another reason for the league. It was on display in abundance as two of the league’s four teams played Thursday evening.

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This match was 9 vs. 9. Each squad had 11 players on hand, but some summer humidity made an agreement for two subs on each side a smart idea. Exercise is another motive for the league, yet it’s not way up the list.

Competition ranks somewhere between good sportsmanship and running up and down the pitch.

Boris San Andres attends Bible World Church in Chesapeake. He’s a midfielder and the lead recruiter for the church’s team, one of the sides in action Thursday evening. San Andres said Fuller is “genius” for starting this league.

Soccer, or futbol with Bible World’s entirely Hispanic team, doesn’t need a lot of recruiting, says San Andres. The league at SYAA has given the congregation, men and women, young and less young, even more opportunities to fellowship through a sport they love.

“I’ve been trying to quit soccer, but these guys won’t let me,” San Andres said, talking about a lot of kids running and playing along the sideline.

San Andres and Fuller both coach competitive youth teams, with San Andres coaching a 12-and-under team and a 14U team. Fuller coaches 9U and 13U teams at SYAA.

There are lots of times and venues to play for wins, but San Andres’s face lights up even more when the subject isn’t about strategies or scores.

“We come out here and our families are together. It’s just a beautiful thing to see parents and the kids smiling,” he said.

Most of the talk on the sideline was expert analysis of Saturday night’s Gold Cup final, the continental championship, between Mexico and America. The kids were split predicting the outcome. The obvious superstar, though, is young Mexican and Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, known worldwide as Chicharito.

Christian Jacome is Bible World’s pastor, coach and forward.

“When Boris was getting this team together to play in Suffolk, it was the kids who dragged me into it,” Jacome said.

Joining SYAA’s league led Bible World to holding a tournament last weekend there, a fundraiser for Stand Up for Kids, a charity dedicated to helping homeless children in the United States.

“It was great for SYAA to let us use the fields. They didn’t have to and it let us have a very nice event,” San Andres said.

Fuller’s already thinking ahead to next season, shooting for additional teams and seeking sponsorships so more money can go to SYAA’s youth teams. An inaugural women’s league is in the works and set to start in August.

Just like the co-ed league, no prior soccer experience is needed to play, only the proper attitude.

For Bible World, Suffolk could become the hub for all of its Beautiful Game activities. Last summer, the church headed up a local World Cup shortly after the real one concluded in South Africa.

More than 150 players formed national teams, complete with the correct colors and, even more creatively, the right food.

“We had each team bring a dish from their nationality,” San Andres said. “We had Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Jamaica, South Africa, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and more.”

Fittingly, San Andres wants the next local World Cup to be with kids on the field.

“When I’m in church and I ask, ‘Who plays soccer?’ the kids all jump up smiling and yelling,” San Andres said.