Orlando City Soccer and The Lake Nona Junior Lions (Lake Nona Youth Sports League) have recently partnered to provide competitive soccer to children living in and around Lake Nona. Both boys and girls that were born in years 1999 through 2008 (U9 to U18) will have the opportunity to become involved.
“The most important thing is to get every player engaged in soccer regardless of what talent level they are. … We’ve got to get people engaged at young ages so that once they’re finished playing … they end up giving back to the community and make sure other kids play,” said Stephen Harrison, Community Soccer Director for Orlando City Soccer.
Registration has already begun and will close once all of the 90 spots are filled. Although an exact start date has yet to be finalized, practices will likely begin by the middle of February. The teams will practice for two weeks, then play a series of eight to 10 games. Upon completion of the season, individual teams will have the ability to enter into tournament play, thus extending the season even further.
The partnership is similar to the one formed between the Lake Nona Junior Lions and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) that recently made instructional tennis available to many of Lake Nona’s youth. Although Orlando City Soccer carries out recreational youth soccer in other parts of Central Florida, the affiliation with the Junior Lions is the only partnership they have with a well-established nonprofit sports entity.
“It only makes sense that the two would come together and get kids in Lake Nona involved in soccer. I’m a proud season-ticket holder! Not only am I super excited that Orlando City is going to have its practice facility here, but I’m further impressed that they are reaching out to the community in such a manner. It’s public outreach like this that make me a huge supporter,” said super fan Spencer Phelps.
Although the program will cover a large range of ages, it will be very concentrated on the younger ages. The reason for the major focus on the earlier children is to initiate healthy habits of being active and fit and also interacting with other kids.
“The aim is getting them to engage with other children in social situations, making new friends from different backgrounds … and hopefully they make friends for life, which a lot of people in soccer tend to do,” said Harrison.
Parents and children who want to become involved in the program can sign up today (if there are spots still available) by visiting bit.ly/lakenonasoccer on the web.