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Take time to take in a soccer match

By Walter Geiger Our family spent a lot of time at soccer fields last week. We took in two girls’ GHSA postseason games, including the Lamar County Lady Trojans’ 7-0 win over Toombs County in round one of the high school Class AA state playoffs. We also watched our daughter’s club team, the Fury FC U14 girls, win a couple of big match-ups over the weekend to take the lead in their division. I was struck by the small crowds at the two high school games which were played in large football stadiums. Each had a handful of raucous student supporters cheering on the home team and a smattering of parents and other family members doing the same. Their cheers echoed around the cavernous venues. The club matches seemed to attract as many if not more fans as parents, grandparents and siblings cheered on the combatants. Soccer is a world class game. It has surpassed baseball as number two on my list of favorite sports behind college football. The game is played worldwide. Arthur Blank, who cofounded Home Depot and owns the Atlanta Falcons, understands soccer’s allure. He is bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to Atlanta to play in his palatial new stadium beginning in 2017. I think if local sports fans went out to a match or two they would take a shine to this sport. And, our local high school teams offer just such opportunities this week. The Lamar County Trojans won their opening round playoff match last week, smashing Vidalia 4-1. They play host to Fitzgerald in round two tonight at 6 p.m. at Trojan Field. The Lady Trojans do battle with Westside High of Augusta, also at Trojan Field, Wednesday at 6 p.m. These young athletes train hard – just as hard as those who play football and basketball or run track. In fact, they need greater endurance as high school matches are made up of two, 40-minute halves. There are no timeouts so they have to be in superb physical condition. It is also a game of tactics and momentum. If you are looking for a sport for your child, consider soccer. Go out this week and whet your appetite by taking in a high school playoff game. The sport will grow on you and the hard-working players will greatly appreciate your support. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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