Kiwanis Club Attends Awards
Paso Robles Youth Soccer is a nonprofit program that has been helping young athletes for more than 15 years. Our soccer teams attract players from Cambria, Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Miguel, and other surrounding communities, many who are from low-income families. We have nearly 350 athletes, both boys and girls. Our philosophy is this:
- good sportsmanship
- open registration
- equal play
- positive coaching
We seek to promote participation by female players, and to provide opportunities for adults living in the area to participate in youth-oriented activities that result in improved parent-child relationships and increased community organization. We help children in the community stay out of drugs, alcohol, gangs, and trouble. We strive to do our best for the children and help them understand that without school they won’t be able to become the professionals they want to be.
Games are played on the fields as Bauer Speck School in Paso Robles (click for map).
Salvador Echeverria has been coaching soccer in the area since 2000. He is responsible for making the daily decisions that make youth want to play.
Paso Robles Youth Soccer is one of the most affordable soccer programs in San Luis Obispo county, because of our low enrollment fees. We always welcome help from the community through donations and sponsorships, so we can provide a high-quality soccer program while maintaining the reasonable cost. (The program is not funded by the City of Paso Robles.) Sponsorships go a long way in helping subsidize individual registration fees, purchase equipment needed, provide more scholarship assistance, and much more. Sponsorships are available at any desired level.
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Before Salvador Echeverria organized Paso Robles Youth Soccer, he was head coach of the Oak Park Soccer League, which began in the year 2000 with 48 children ages 9-12, on 4 teams with 6 volunteers, under the auspices of the Paso Robles Housing Authority. The following year, the Housing Authority invested $38,000 on the installation of a fenced playing field within the housing complex, complete with goals, nets, and seating. The league immediately doubled in size.
In 2002, several local teens in the 14 and 15 year old range approached the organizers of the league and asked, "Why don't you start a division for us? We want to play." The Oak Park Soccer League was awarded a $3,000 Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant and by the Fall of 2002, a 14-15 year old division was created with 6 teams.
By 2003, about 160 youth played on 14 teams. In the Fall of 2003, the coaches and the league's parent committee began to embrace the vision of the program and how it extended beyond soccer. Training coaches to work positively with children was also training those coaches to be better parents. Parents were now fully involved as coaches, organizers and fans at practices and on game days, promoting league-wide sportsmanship.
At a parent committee meeting, a parent suggested entering the Pioneer Days Parade in Paso Robles. Not sure if the children would participate, the league submitted an application just before the entry deadline. About 80 children marched in the parade, in uniform, carrying the league banners.
In 2004, a division was added for 4-5 year olds. The significance of this was that it created an early interest and entryway to the positive activity that is soccer.
In 2005, there were 200 youth ages 4 to 12 on 20 teams. Another 70 youth were turned away due to limited resources and overuse of the Oak Park Soccer field.
In 2006, again there were another 200 youth, in 17 teams. The demand for additional teams in the 6-12 age range remained high. Awareness of the need to expand the program to include 13-15 years olds also remained high. Use of the Georgia Brown Elementary School field was obtained and $5,000 in funding to pilot expansion of the league to include 13-15 year olds was provided by the Housing Authority.
In 2007, with financial support from a Community-Based Organization/Preventive Health Grant, the league expanded with 8 teams in the 13-15 age division. These youth played their games at the Georgia Brown Elementary School field with the approval of Georgia Brown Principal Rigo Elenes.
In 2008, the Oak Park Soccer League expanded to 32 teams. With funding for only 28 teams, 4 teams agreed to pay their expenses through sponsorships. This had been a program goal for some time, but the declining economy had posed a challenge. In addition, an all-star team from players in the upper division was formed to practice over the winter months and compete in selected events in the upcoming year.
In an effort to promote increased participation by girl athletes, the Housing Authority sponsored a pilot soccer skills program limited to girls ages 6-12. Participation was limited to about 12 girls, who struggled with extreme summer heat and fatigue, with the focus on conditioning and without the incentive of competitive play with outside teams.
In 2009, Central Coast Funds for Children provided funding to start a competitive all-girls division. The league anticipated 4 to 6 teams, and ended up with 8. In addition to the core soccer program, 18 boys represented Oak Park in the Legacy Club Soccer program. The total number of teams reached 36.
In March 2010, an under-12 boys team with academic grades of C or higher traveled to Los Angeles to participate in a tournament sponsored by Chivas USA as a showcase of high-caliber talent from all over California. The league had wanted to send out a team for several years, so the trip was a big milestone for the program. Not accustomed to playing on full-size fields, the boys lost badly, scoring hardly any goals. Yet for some of the boys, staying in a hotel was the most memorable experience they recalled.
Later that year, in August, a regional tournament was held in Paso Robles at Barney Schwartz Park. Teams from Bakersfield, Fresno, and Salinas competed with teams from Paso Robles, including the under-12 team from Oak Park that had travelled to Los Angeles in March. And who took first place? Yes ... the Oak Park boys who had been so badly clobbered in L.A.!
Also in 2010, the Housing Authority invested $5,000 toward restoring Georgia Brown Field. During restoration, G.B. Field games were played on a third field at Flamson Jr. High School.
In 2011, the program swelled to 450 participants in the fall, which included two Academic Club teams and an eight-team All-Girls program.
In 2012, the program endured some logistical challenges. The Flamson School site was undergoing seeding, so players had to move to the Bauer Speck site seven blocks farther away. In addition, 41 families were temporarily relocated out of Oak Park to allow for redevelopment in 2013. Participation dropped to 367 participants. But neither the quality of the program nor the integrity of the behavioral expectations of the participants was compromised. That is a far higher priority than merely the number of children who participate.