Youth Soccer Growing In Popularity In Tulsa

Thursday, January 24th 2013, 10:15 pm

Local boosters of soccer welcomed Thursday's news of a professional team coming to Tulsa.

There's plenty of interest in the game. Tulsa's Roughnecks played here last in the mid-1980s.

Soccer was very popular then, and now it's back in the form of youth soccer.

More fields are coming into play and, even this time of year, teams play almost around the clock.

There's constant motion at Soccer City, even in the middle of winter. It's the only indoor soccer complex in Tulsa, and that means it's busy much of the year, in the cold and the heat.

How popular?

Manager Dee Williams says 400 teams play a regular schedule there.

Others aren't so regular, but there are birthday parties and tournament rentals all year.

"We start very early, especially on the weekends; 7 a.m., and we go until 2 in the morning—yes, adults play that late," Williams said.

1/24/2013 Related Story: Professional Soccer Coming Back To Tulsa

Two fields in the back are busy with games that run 40 minutes long.

In the front is where the beginners learn the basics of ball handling and just have fun, but many of these children go on to play as they get older.

It's all ages, boys and girls, and as competitive or not as the teams want it to be.

Dusty Schottel is a soccer parent and coaches a team of 10- and 11-year-olds.

"Especially at this age, everybody gets to play, everybody gets to have a good time and it's not all about winning, it's about not sitting on your rear every day playing computer games. It's a team sport," Schottel said.

That's attractive to a growing body of young people and their parents.

They say they can spend just a little or a lot to put a player on the field and teams can be built from players with a wide range of ability.

All of that adds up to some parents saying Tulsa is a soccer town.

"It seems to me it's very popular. There's tons of kids on the weekends, at any field, there's tons of kids," Schottel said.

The City of Tulsa has just completed a new soccer complex on the west side of Mohawk Park.

It's in talks with a vendor about running it and expects a league of teams to play there.