Soccer starting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 12, 2006

James Gilmore / Times’ Sports Editor

The Black Belt Action Commission (BBAC), who was started two years ago by Governor Bob Riley, is instituting a soccer program for the region. The health committee of the BBAC has partnered with the Alabama Youth Soccer Association to set in motion youth soccer programs in Livingston and Marion.

It was last December when the AYSA made contact with the BBAC whose health committee main concern was the state of health among our children in the inner cities and the black belt. The committee is constantly seeking ways to prevent various health issues, such as obesity, childhood diabetics, etc.

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One way to prevent these and others is by playing sports.

The soccer six-week program begins Saturday and will continue each Saturday through October 21. Clinics will be from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The soccer program will take place in Livingston at the Livingston High School field and in Marion at the Marion Military Institute.

“These activities provide a great opportunity for us to partner with local communities in the Black Belt,” said Chad Nichols, project manager of the BBAC health committee. “It also gives us the chance to start youth soccer programs and to provide healthy activities for our youth.”

The programs are open to children, 6-12 in the Black Belt. Participants will learn soccer skills and will compete against each other in soccer games. The AYSA will coach the children for the first two weeks and then local adults will take over to sustain the soccer programs in each community.

This is a continuation of other youth soccer outreach efforts in Perry and Sumter counties this year. In June the BBAC and the AYSA sponsored a two-day soccer clinic in each county and brought just under 100 youth from both counties to the University of Alabama last month.

“We are extremely excited about continuing our efforts to start new soccer programs in the Black Belt,” says Scott Spencer, the director of coaching for the AYSA. “This is a direct result of our partnership with the governor’s BBAC and their grassroots efforts in the Black Belt region of our state.”

According to Nichols, back in April the AYSA also brought in from the country of Mexico, their woman’s national soccer team for a match against the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer team. Their game was played at Legion Field in Birmingham.

The AYSA will provide a minimum of two sets of jerseys to be used by each child along with all of the necessary equipment. All of these uniforms and equipment will be donated to local centers for use in upcoming years.

“We want kids, adults, and other from communities to participate,” added Nichols. “You don’t have to be from Livingston, Marion, Sumter, or Perry County.”

“We want this program to be long term.”

For more information you can contact Chad Nichols at 334-353-1543, or email him at