CHAPMANVILLE – Soccer is quickly becoming the fastest growing sport in southern West Virginia.
To look for proof you have to go no further than Chapmanville’s fledgling Coalfield Youth Soccer League.
The league has grown tremendously in its four years of existence.
Just a few weeks ago, the CYSL’s spring season concluded and 350 area youth took part in the league, ranging in ages from 5 all the way up to 16.
The league plays its soccer matches at the Mullins Sports Complex on Sawmill Road in Chapmanville and the field has seen heavy use.
Area youth soccer players were able to enjoy a rare treat as the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp was held this week at the soccer complex.
A pair of soccer pros from Great Britain – Ross Lawrence and Johnny Hawman – came to Chapmanville to give area players some invaluable instruction in the world’s game.
It was the second straight year Challenger Sports has brought its instructors to Chapmanville.
Coalfield Youth Soccer League secretary Jennifer Trump, who was on hand at the weeklong camp, said it has been a thrill to see the sport take off in Logan County.
“The camp has been great. The kids have had fun and they have really learned a lot,” Trump said. “These guys were very highly trained when they left England. They are both very good soccer players and they play for national teams. The kids are really learning and having fun.”
What Americans call “soccer” is called “football” in just about every corner of the globe. The Americans’ sport of “football” is known as “American football,” or, in places like Australia, is simply called “Gridiron.”
“The two instructors have adjusted surprisingly well when they were here in calling it ‘soccer,’” Trump quipped. “They grew up calling it football but they have done pretty well with calling it soccer this week.”
Trump said 36 students took part in this week’s soccer camp which was divided into 4-5, 6-9 and 10-and-up age groups.
The Coalfield Youth Soccer League has fall and spring seasons and participation has been very strong, Trump said.
“This past season was our largest ever when we had 350 kids taking part,” Trump said. “It’s great to see that growth. We’ve seen kids who started at the very beginning and we have seen how much they have improved. At the beginning, really none of us knew the basic fundamentals of soccer. Now, they are getting really good.”
As far as high school soccer goes across the state, Logan County seems to be one of the last remaining black holes.
Just about every area of the state fields prep soccer teams but area schools Chapmanville Regional, Logan and Man still do not have any programs.
Nearby Scott High School in Boone County and Mingo Central High School in Newtown have soccer teams. The two schools, however, are able to benefit from the football stadiums at Scott and Mingo Central which have FieldTurf. With no problems such as muddy fields, the artificial grass-like surface allows for unlimited games to be played, albeit high school or middle school football, youth league football or soccer.
Facilities in Logan County still seem to be a problem as school teams and youth teams are forced to share the same fields.
The Mullins Sports Complex, put together a couple of years ago, is an exception. The wide open field allows for ample space and multiple games to be played at the same time.
Trump said she hopes all three Logan County schools will have prep level soccer soon. The CYSL is already helping prepare future prep players for that possible inevitability.
“Definitely,” she said. “We hope some of our players are on the first middle school and high school teams in the county. This is the next step.”