If you go
What: Craig Parks and Recreation youth soccer
When: 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday
Where: Woodbury Sports Complex
Coaches and parents yelled words of encouragement as every youth playing in the 8 and younger game followed the soccer ball around the field.
“The kids are just excited to be out there playing and want to be in the action,” coach Dwayne Gonzalez said.
Craig Parks and Recreation youth soccer started July 6 and games are played every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Woodbury Sports Complex.
There are four age groups — ages 6 and younger, ages 7-8, ages 9-10 and ages 11-15.
Mallory Pollok coaches a 15 and younger team, Craig United, on which his son, Alexander Pollok, 12, plays.
“It’s a family thing,” Pollok said. “My son wanted to play, and it gives us more time together.”
He said at the ages of 11 to 15, he really tries to teach the players to concentrate on the game and learn ball-handling skills.
“I tell them all the time to take advantage of opportunities that are given to them,” he said. “They are really starting to become team players, with passing and knowing where to be in the game.”
Hugo Hernandez, 11, who plays on Craig United, said he tried out for soccer because many people in his family have played.
“My family really wanted me to play so I tried it,” he said. “I like the game a lot because it is challenging.”
Forward is Hugo’s favorite position on the soccer field because that is where the action is, and he likes to keep the ball from the defenders, he said.
Hugo’s teammate, Ricardo Zaragoza, 13, said when he was younger, he wanted to learn to play, so he taught himself.
“When I was really little I just went out and started playing with a soccer ball by myself,” he said. “It was fun, and I figured being on a team, I could learn more.”
When it comes to coaching the younger teams, Gonzalez, who coaches a 15 and younger team as well as the 8 and younger team, said it is totally different.
“At such a young age, as a coach I am just trying to teach them the game in general,” he said. “They need to learn the positions and where they need to be.”
Gonzalez said both age groups have their perks though.
“The younger kids are fresh and just learning the game,” he said. “The older kids are competitive and want to win.”
When he was approached five years ago to coach, Gonzalez said he didn’t know anything about the game.
But, he is glad he took the job.
“It is a really fun job to have,” he said. “I am able to create a bond with the kids that, even when we the kids see me off the field at the grocery store, they say, ‘hi.’”