Sciota, PA (2/11/2017)—Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer hosted the inaugural Winter Recreational Festival Saturday at the Pocono Dome in Sciota, Pennsylvania. Dozens of players representing 10 different clubs took part in two age groups, Under-12 Boys and Under-12 Girls.
The one-day tournament is designed to give recreational teams a chance to play statewide competition.
Each team played at least three games, 27 minutes in length. The five-on-five play with unlimited substitution made for some fast-paced action. For many of the teams, this was their first time playing indoor competition.
“This is our first indoor game time,” said Parkland Area Griffins coach Pat Lundy, one of three alongside Brian Lawlor and Jason Boehm. “I usually get the girls together once a week in the four weeks leading into the season but never games like this. They love it.”
Parkland has a strong reputation as a travel club, while the rec program offers an alternative path. Some of the Griffins go on to travel play. But many of the players, according to Lundy, choose to play rec because they enjoy other activities such as Girl Scouts or other sports. Rec offers them a chance to continue to play soccer without a greater commitment.
“It's great to see a tournament that advocates for the rec program, because we've had a team together for a very long time,” said Lundy. “They all play together. It gives them an opportunity to play on an even playing field. It's been a good experience.”
Other teams used the Winter Festival as an opportunity to tune up and have fun in between seasons.
“This is our regular outdoor team,” said John Augustine, coach of the U-12 Boys Mountaintop Tigers. “This is just a way to get together in the offseason and play. We had a really good season last year. We hope to do well today.”
Mountaintop is emblematic of the rest of the clubs in attendance. Based in Northeast Pennsylvania, the Tigers play in the recreational Wyoming Valley Youth Soccer League. The Winter Festival offered the team a chance to take on opponents from across the state, which in turn became a teaching point for Augustine to his young players.
“To get four or five games in, back to back, really that's what it's all about,” he said. “You're playing teams of all different skill levels. That's really the only way you get better.”
Augustine relished the experience.
“This is one of the better tournaments we've been in,” he said. “We're happy to be here, and we'd be happy to come back again next year.”