The Swain Youth Soccer Association and county recreation department have teamed up to renovate sub-par soccer fields in the recreation park and are asking the community to pitch in.
The two soccer fields at the recreation park are unfit for anything other than practices. Even the local high school team must play its games on a football field. The only quality soccer fields in the county are privately owned by Camp Living Water, which runs a recreational soccer league. But the program — and their six private fields — aren’t big enough to accommodate all kids who want to play.
“It’s needed in this county. Our fields are not enough for everyone to play,” said Joel Sasscer, director of the Christian Camp Living Water. The camp’s fields double for other uses, which prevent them from hosting weekend games or offering summer soccer.
So, the county and SYSA hope to renovate the two older fields in the recreation park, providing the county’s other soccer league — Swain Youth Soccer Association — a place to both practice and play. Swain County scored a $30,000 matching grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. But $30,000 must be raised locally to get the grant. Only $6,000 has been raised so far, but SYSA leaders hope to raise all $30,000 by the end of February, which would allow them to complete the planned makeover by the spring soccer season.
“We are fundraising hard within the community,” Porter said. “The community has been supportive, but it’s a small community.”
Currently, nothing will grow on the county fields. To remedy that, the renovations will include grading the fields, putting down sod and installing an irrigation system.
“And anything we can do after that, to add bleachers and fences, would be great,” Porter said.
There are about 150 kids in Swain County participating in some sort of soccer program, be it competitive or recreational, and another 20 or 30 who play high school soccer.
Although the fields are OK for practicing, the 50 or so children who play for SYSA travel most Saturdays during the season to Asheville to play against teams in the Asheville-Buncombe soccer league — more than two hours round-trip for a 90-minute soccer match.
“Many families simply can’t do it with the expense,” Porter said.
The dream for SYSA is to host their own games once the fields have been rehabilitated.
• Sign-ups for the Camp Living Water’s spring soccer programs will begin in February, serving ages 4 to 11. 828.488.6012.