According to Neosho Parks and Recreation Director John Jordon, numbers couldn’t be better right now for the fall Neosho Youth Soccer Program.

According to Neosho Parks and Recreation Director John Jordon, numbers couldn’t be better right now for the fall Neosho Youth Soccer Program.

After roughly 160 children signed up for the program last fall season, the 2012 campaign has seen a significant boom. To date, approximately 280 kids will comprise teams in the 3-13 years age bracket.

“I saw the numbers and I couldn’t believe it,” Jordon said. “We lose kids to other things like youth football and cheerleading from third grade on up, but the last several seasons there seem to have been more and more kids coming out for soccer. Still, I was surprised by that number.”

Jordon said he was happy with the numbers not only because it helps the city revenue, but more importantly because more children are getting involved in sports. Jordon said those numbers will eventually trickle to the high school level and make those programs even stronger.

“It’s great from a numbers standpoint, but it’s even better seeing more kids getting involved in the sport of soccer,” he said. “Honestly, I’m not just excited from a standpoint of increased revenue for more kids participating. To me, it’s just that more kids are able to get out and they’re being more involved in the sport of soccer and learning about the sport in a noncompetitive nature.

“Most people involved with our programs know the game and do a great job of instructing these kids.”

What’s the driving factor behind the numbers increase? Jordon says he thinks parents are simply buying into the city’s plan on creating better structure for its youth programs.

“I think these numbers are starting to show more people are getting interested in soccer, which can only benefit the school and its teams down the road,” Jordon said. “I think parents are starting to buy in to what has been spoken (by the city) and starting to support and get behind the programs. I anticipate that the numbers will continue to grow once parents begin to see how organized (the program) is.”

While the numbers are usually the strongest from the 5-8 years range, according to Jordon, it’s actually the 3-4 year age group that comprises the bulk of this year’s signees with approximately 70 entrants. Jordon says those children will focus on learning the basics of the game in an instructional format.

Jordon says they plan is to give all ages plenty of bang for their buck. The youth soccer season typically began the day of the Fall Festival in past years, but Jordon says that date has been moved to the following Monday, Oct. 8, to make it more convenient for families.

“We wanted everybody to be able to go to the Fall Festival and not worry about getting to soccer games,” he said. “(The season) will run for about four weeks, weather permitting. We’d like to get them eight games during that four-week period.”

Sign-ups for this season are now closed, but Jordon encouraged families to be on the lookout for a chance to get into the spring program next April.

“I’d like to encourage everyone that missed signup this fall, to sign up next spring,” he said. “Be looking for something in February and March relating to soccer sign-ups. It’s a great way to get kids out and involved in sports. They can transition right from soccer to Little League baseball.”