Fore Ranch is a local Ocala community located off highway 200. Every year, Fore Ranch Soccer League hosts a Free Play practice for any kids who want to participate, at no cost to the parents.
“Free Play is just about getting the kids out here and giving them a chance to see what soccer’s about without having their parents sign them up before hand,” said coach Matt Knowles, head of the league. He stressed the point of giving kids an opportunity to play without any obligations.
“Let them get out here and kick the ball around, see what a practice is like, and let their parents see if it’s a right fit for their child,” said Knowles. Coach Knowles went on to explain the importance of parents being able to try new things.
All of the coaches at the Fore Ranch Soccer League are volunteers. Many of them are also parents of players. Everyone participating was happy to be involved.
“Free Play is pretty much a way to grade the kids and make sure we make balanced teams,” said coach Chris Valenti. The league also has different age groups to ensure the teams are fairly put together.
The league is run by members of the Fore Ranch community. This reflects the ethical approach taken by the coaches and organizers. Many coaches have been returning for a number of years.
Turnout for practice was high, as the field was swarming with kids of all ages. According to coach Jason Scott the number of kids participating has increased every year.
“The turnout increases every time and so does the sheer joy of the kids,” said Scott. “Hopefully the event will spark a trend in neighboring communities. The genuine positive reaction from the players and the parents is refreshing.”
There were a large number of children and supportive parents at the field located at the Fore Ranch Recreation Center. The purpose of the practice seemed to be a success, as many parents inquired about signing their children up to play. The kids, many of them new to soccer, seemed to enjoy their experience. A significant number of them were returning players, who weren’t required to be at the Free Play practice but didn’t want to miss out on the fun.
For more information about the Fore Ranch Soccer League, contact: 352-462-2962
Story by: Ryan Andrew Neumann