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Kickin’ It — Oxford Park Commission’s Youth Soccer Program teaching healthy lifestyle, life lessons

Since the mid-1970s, the Oxford Park Commission has provided a sports league that kids have gotten a real kick out of.

This season, the Youth Recreational Soccer League is seeing their highest turn out rate since in half a decade.

According to OPC athletics manager Jared Barkley, 747 youth soccer participants ranging from the 5U to 12U leagues are hitting the pitch. This is an increase of 132 players since the 2017 spring season.

So what’s the reason for all this recent excitement?

“The main reason youth soccer is a good program for kids is because it is fun!” Barkley wrote in an email. “The youth soccer program, as well as all of the other programs we offer at OPC, also exists to benefit the personal development of the participant.”

Barkley added that sports are “a wonderful conduit to teach life skills such as the importance of being healthy and physically active, improving one’s physical literacy to know how to move well and, in turn, be able to enjoy a lifetime of enjoyment by participating in (them).”

Aside from getting more coordinated physically, sports also lead to social benefits and meeting new people as part of a team. Barkley says that it’s not just the youth who reap rewards from the program.

“There are also great benefits to family members who enjoy seeing their kids enjoy participating in sport in a setting that brings the Oxford and Lafayette communities together and adds to the quality of life for our residents,” he said. “We are recreational sports that everyone can play and compete in.

Through the instruction of our great volunteer coaches and parents at home, players improve their skills and grow in their competency and love of the sport, which leads to a feeling of accomplishment and motivates them for many years of active participation that leads into adulthood and an active lifestyle to pass down to their own kids.”

The OPC’s programming is also about looking toward the future.

“Through our sport programs at OPC we hope to not only develop players who enjoy being active for a lifetime,” Barkley says, “but we also hope to help develop the next great parents and community leaders of tomorrow.”