The Elks Soccer Shoot competition was held Sunday at the River Park Soccer Complex.
About 30 kids, a few more girls than boys, put their best foot, or in this case feet, forward, hoping to finish as one of the top two shooters in their respective age groups so they can compete again in the Northwest District on Sunday, Nov. 7 back at the complex.
“The Elks...we try to be involved in the community and we love to work with the youth,” Soccer Shootout director Chuck Ruth said. “This is something where we’re trying to reach a different demographic and at the same time, continue to build up the soccer Community here in Calhoun.”
Ruth is a self-proclaimed lover of the game and became heavily involved in the sport, first as a youth coach and then as a referee when his daughter was growing up and wanted to participate.
“I think it’s a great game and we definitely want to promote it and continue to hold things like this so that we can get more kids involved in the sport in Calhoun, “ Ruth said. “The turnout was decent and maybe we wanted to have a few more kids and parents show up then we did have, butI think the kids who were there had fun and got to kick a soccer ball around under some relaxed conditions instead of the pressure that can come with doing it in a game so I thought everything went well and the big thing was for the kids to get out there and have some fun. “
The competition was originally supposed to be divided into five age groups but it became four with two winners each in the 8-and-under, 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 14-and-under divisions now getting the opportunity to advance to the next round.
The biggest turnout was in the 12-and-under age bracket, where nine girls registered. They were all members of the same team and did it to create some internal competition.
“That was fun to see,” Ruth said. “They were having some friendly competition amongst themselves in an atmosphere where there was no pressure and they could just go out focus on kicking the ball the best they could. And that’s what we like to see because, yes these kids are competing at the events that we hold, but we’re really just trying to bring the game to them. We want to showcase what they can do in a fun environment where they can go against their friends and other kids their own age that are also learning the game.”
For the youngest group, five smaller-sized goals made of PVC pipe were placed at midfield and for every shot made, they registered points.
For the players in the ages 9-to-14 range, they shot into a regulation goal that had skinny ropes draped in front of it. Exactly where the shots landed in the net accounted for a set amount of points.
The goals had two ropes across them, with one about a foot off the ground and the other about a couple of feet from the top. Then ropes were put about five feet inside the pipes, leaving a lot of room in the middle but making the other eight spaces very tight.
The high space in the left and right corners were worth the most points and a young man named Leonardo kept placing his shots there — which are a couple of spaces a real goalie may not be able to reach in a live game.
Ruth said he looks forward to seeing how the girls and boys who advanced do at the next round as berths at the eventual state level are still in play.