by Eric Oslund
The Rogers Rebels Soccer Club was born out of the idea to better serve the recreation sport of soccer in the surrounding community. It started with a traveling competitive team, but has since grown to recreational leagues as well.
They had just put on their first summer league this year, after only having fall recreational leagues the two prior. The popularity of this program is evident as the number of kids participating has doubled in about six months.
“It’s going great,” said Jim Jones, the vice president of recreation soccer for the Rogers Rebels. “We actually are at about 200 kids playing, so it’s far more than we anticipated.”
So what is it that makes the Rebels so appealing to residents, not only in Rogers, but in the surrounding communities as well? According to the board members, a big reason why is how they structure the program.
They listen to the feedback that each parent has, and then use that input to continue to build and improve things year to year.
“We wanted to provide an alternative to our other soccer associations in the area,” president of the Rogers Royals Soccer Club Sandy David said. “We took a look at what people were talking about, what parents were looking for, and we try to have a flexible program, not just competitive, but with the rec as well. That’s why we branched into the rec, because people were asking, ‘Do you have a rec program?’ We had surprising results on people being very positive about it.”
It’s also the love and dedication everyone involved shows on a weekly basis. From the board members attending all the games, down to the kids enjoying themselves by going out and playing.
All the coaches are volunteers, and even while the refs do get paid, a lot of them are high school kids just doing what they can to give back to the community that helped them learn to play soccer when they were younger, and showed support every step of the way.
“It’s their way of giving back,” Jones began. “All their parents, and even us board members, have fostered them throughout the years learning how to play the game, running the games. Now, a lot of them feel fulfilled because now they can give back, almost like repaying the communities, ‘Thank you for helping me learn soccer, now I’m going to help the next generation learn to play soccer too.’”
All the recreational teams, ranging from five year olds up to 14, get together at the VFW fields in Otsego on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays are the days that everyone holds their practices, and all the teams will work on the same fundamental skills – they just get more advanced as the players get older.
Since all the coaches are volunteers, not all of them have a background in soccer, so the board holds a coaching clinic before the start of the season as a way to train everyone who wants to get involved. That way, everyone is on the same page and all the kids can get the same training.
“I believe it’s important to have everybody be on the same page,” Jones said. “There’s a set of basic skills that every soccer player needs, that the whole sport is built on, and you need to teach those skills early, and those are the same skills that get developed. My favorite quote from soccer is Pele, and he said, ‘Soccer is a simple game, but the hard part of soccer is keeping it simple.’ People try to over complicate it when it’s really a very simple sport.”
And what may even be the most simple part of the sport – or any sport for that matter – is the thing everyone associated with the Rebels try to focus on the most. Having fun.
After all, their motto is: “Setting new standards. Come join the fun.”