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On the ball all winter long - The News Journal
Monday, 15 March 2010 00:58
futsalwireThe News JournalIndoor soccer -- or futsal -- is fast-paced, high-scoring and helps 18-year-old Rubi Cedillo keep fit, ...

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A Indoor soccer -- or futsal -- is fast-paced, high-scoring and helps 18-year-old Rubi Cedillo keep fit, stay disciplined and make new friends.

Telma Cedillo, Rubi's mother, is happy her daughter plays in the Urban Soccer League, even if it takes up five hours of Telma's Sunday afternoons.That's because two younger children -- Andrew, 9, and Krystal, 12 -- also play in the winter league, which is winding down next Sunday as students prepare for outdoor play in the weeks ahead."My kids are always pushing me -- Mommy go, Mommy go," said Telma.

"They love soccer and Sunday is the high point of their week."It's been that way for many of the 390 young people playing on almost 40 teams at the Police Athletic League center in Garfield Park.

The league is a collaboration of the Kirkwood Soccer Club and the recreation section of New Castle County.It's the first winter for the Urban League.

Most of the players are young Latinos and include members of the former Brookside Soccer League in Newark, said Ricardo Cupa, who was active in Brookside before play ended.Such youth often feel a passion for soccer, even when it's played on a basketball court, said Andreas Certatto, coordinator of the program for Kirkwood Soccer.He predicts more players will join in years to come.

That's partly because of changes in the county's Hispanic population.

It's grown about 50 percent, from about 26,300 in 2000 to 39,400 in 2008, the most recent estimate available from the U.S.

Census.

Hispanics now make up 7.4 percent of the county's population, compared to 5.3 percent in 2000.A goal of the league is to keep costs low so parents of modest means can afford to bring their kids, said Joe Mills, executive director of Kirkwood Soccer.This year it cost $30 for a child to play, about half of what it would cost without grants from Adidas and the U.S.

Soccer Foundation and without the county's assistance, Mills said.In his view, there's a benefit to structured play as opposed to pickup games, because 10-year-olds and 15-year-olds don't play on the same teams."We help young people develop skills and make sure they play with kids their age," Mills said.The goal is teamwork and striving to be the best while teaching players to accept that sometimes another team will be No.

1, Certatto said.On Sunday, Crescencio Gutierrez of New Castle was at the PAL center with his 10-year-old daughter, Jennifer, a member of the Liverpool team.Gutierrez helps organize games for Hispanic adults in the county and is a fan of the Urban League because of the training it offers.Adults have sometimes neglected to provide these opportunities, and this type of league is the best way to develop soccer in the Latino community, he said."I think there is no better way to teach discipline than sports," he said.

Contact Gary Soulsman at 324-2893 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it