The East Wake Soccer Association has come to an agreement with the Town of Knightdale to use the new Knightdale Station park for all of the youth league’s recreational and travel games.
The contract, finalized Aug. 4, is a three-year deal. It is being billed by those within the organization as the “single most important contract” the EWSA has ever signed.
“It helps us consolidate a lot of our games that we typically play at several different locations into one,” EWSA President Scott James said. “It gives us a chance to showcase some of the offerings that we have.”
Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen, whose son plays soccer, sees the benefit this deal presents for the community.
“They have been a great organization in our community for a long time,” Killen said. “(The contract) benefits our children. Certainly lots of Knightdale residents have kids that play soccer, and it benefits them. But it’s going to bring thousands and thousands of parents to downtown Knightdale on a very regular basis, which is a good thing.”
With all of its games in one location, the EWSA expects to expand its membership within its higher levels of play. Recreation-level games will take place only yards away from Academy-level games, giving players and parents an up-close look at the progression.
This all plays a pivotal part in the growth of the sport in the area. The EWSA, known as the Knightdale Soccer League from 1981-1999, has groomed interest in the sport for three decades. Now, with the 2014 World Cup in recent memory, the league is experiencing a spike in membership.
“We started with 100 or so kids – or less – and now we’re up to between 500 and 600 kids in our program,” James said.
Jeff Ferrell, the EWSA director of recreation, singled out the visibility of the park and the quality of the venue as two major benefits of playing games at Knightdale Station. He also mentioned the existence of “real bathrooms” at the facility. In the past, the EWSA has been tasked with portable rentals at its previous game locations.
“This will have a huge impact on the growth of the league,” Ferrell said. “The league is already growing. I’m estimating that by the time our registration is done for the fall we’re going to probably have an increase of 15 to 20 percent – and that’s without people realizing we’re going to be at the park.”
There will always be competition from other sports. It is the goal of the EWSA to create an affordable option for as many kids as possible. The contract with Knightdale goes a long way toward making soccer an attractive option for kids looking to get involved athletically.
“We’re going to be able to reach more kids to play the sport,” Ferrell said. “I think a lot of people maybe didn’t realize that East Wake Soccer is available to them. I think they’ll be a little more aware at this time next year.”