Sports

Program seeks support

Soccer is no doubt one of the more popular sports on Whidbey Island.

With over 1,000 kids participating in recreational and select leagues up and down the island, it would be hard to argue the point.

According to Whidbey Island Soccer Club president Irene Puhr, the amount of kids playing isn’t the current problem at hand. Instead, she says, the amount of people willing volunteer time and help coach the large number of players is in a severe lull.

“I think we’re at one of those points right now,” she said. “We’re at a cyclical low and we could really use some more help.”

Puhr, who never touched a soccer ball until she was asked to coach her son’s recreational team nine years ago, encourages parents to not be shy.

“It’s hard for some parents to envision that they can coach, especially if they’re like me and they never played soccer when they were young,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about it, but I thought I could do it. I went to the library and read books and talked to coaches who had been around for a long time.”

North Whidbey’s recreational leagues, which are preparing to start play in the fall, tend to always be in search of coaches. The under-10 league alone requires up to 30 coaches, according to Puhr.

“Every year at the last minute parents on the team are called and told if they don’t coach there will be no teams,” she said.

At the select soccer club level, it’s not so much finding someone, but finding coaches who have the knowledge to direct players at a higher level. Puhr said the Navy often brings experienced coaches, but as quickly as they are there to help, they are gone.

Puhr stresses, however, that experience isn’t required, just an interest. Local soccer groups pay for coaches to go to training courses and get licensed.

Although finding an adequate number of coaches is currently the large issue within the Whidbey Island Soccer Association, Puhr says there are several other needs for local soccer programs.

“We have to have a board to run the various clubs,” she said. “We need presidents, secretaries and treasurers.”

Referees are also in need.

“It’s the only position where you actually get paid,” Puhr said.

Teenagers are also allowed to apply for referee positions and during tournaments can earn up to $300 a weekend, according to Puhr.

Those interested in volunteering their time to a soccer program on the island can contact WISA president Ed Morgan at trek2c@earthlink.net or WISC president Irene Puhr at 675-5687.

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