Soccer comes back with a kick

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After a year absence, soccer is alive and well in Franklin County.

On Saturday morning, at the Day of Soccer, the Franklin County Youth Soccer League opened its season at the D.W. Wilson Sports Complex in Apalachicola.

They could boast of 14 teams, seven from Apalachicola and seven from the Eastpoint-Carrabelle area.

Betty Sasnett, the longtime president of the league, said 116 players is down from a typical year, but is evidence of a strong rebound after the coronavirus pandemic hampered youth sports.

The kids were out in their new uniforms, all smiling for team pictures, with the little ones doing little more than scampering willy-nilly around the fields, and the older ones getting serious about their play.

“We’re trying to teach them to play together as a team,” said Chase Golden, coach of the Under-6 Get the Scoop team., with assistance from Manolo Lugo.

“We’re trying to teach them to kick the ball mainly and to learn the game,” he said. “And to have fun. It’s kind of hard to keep their interest if they’re not having fun.”

Brandy Goode, of the U-6 Averie Granola Boat team, coaches the team with the help of assistant Angela Parks.

“Teamwork and sharing are definitely a work in progress,” said Parks. “We teach them to weave, to go around and to pass.”

Thomas Pelico, who coaches the U-8 Apalachicola Ace Hardware team with assistance from Danny Vincente, said working on kicking the ball and controlling it are a big part of the game, as the young athletes progress to where they are now keeping score.

By the time they are in the U-13, it becomes clear who has the skill and dedication to move on, and who does not.

Matt Duncan, coach of the Core on the Coast team, together with assistants Brett Johnson and Justin Parks, enjoys working with the older players.

Offside penalties have recently been introduced to the game at that age group, which can draw a penalty kick, a valuable scoring opportunity.

“Passing is crucial,” said Duncan. “Ball control is what matters and we work on spreading out.”

Other teams include the U6 Eastpoint Best Western team, coached by Cecillia Carter and Carl Ard; the U6 Apalachicola team sponsored by JBV Land Clearing and Construction, coached by Amy Crosby; the U8 Eastpoint team sponsored by Half Shell Dockside coached by Javeion Winfield; the U8 Eastpoint team sponsored by Resort Vacation Properties coached by David Newton; the U8 Apalachicola Team sponsored by the Piggly Wiggly, coached by Autumn Nichols; the U10 Apalachicola team sponsored by Up The Creek, coached by Thomas and Francisco Juan; the U10 Eastpoint team sponsored by Beach Water Pool & Spa, coached by Amy Cabrera;  the U10 Apalachicola team sponsored by JV Gander Distributing, coached by Amanda Smith; the U10 Eastpoint team sponsored by Erin Rodriguez Construction, coached by Victoria Jackson. and the U13 Eastpoint team sponsored by Diaz Painting, coached by Isaac Diaz.

The future of soccer at Franklin County High School also looks promising, as both the girls and boys teams will have experienced coaches. The school’s physical education teacher Anna Bull, who was at the Day of Soccer, will coach the girls, while Bill McCullough will handle the chores for the varsity boys. 

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