Most parents will agree that children need time in the fresh air and the great outdoors. There is a safe and fun way to get kids psyched up about the world outside their four walls. Upward Soccer is on the coast and open to kids K-4 through 6th grade. One of the most active places for the kids to play is at First Baptist Church Gulfport.
Carol Leggett, Upward League Director, and Steven Mansell head up the program for kids that focuses on the whole child instead of just the sports aspect. “I’ve been at FBC Gulfport, as the Youth and Recreation Ministry Associate, for 2 ½ years. I felt that God was calling me to work with students and I really enjoy Upward soccer in the spring and Upward basketball in the fall,” Mansell said.
The $60 it costs to play gets you a jersey, paid league fees, equipment and directors fees paid. One of the most intriguing elements to this organization is that the practices are only once a week for an hour and games are always on Saturdays with each team playing approximately one hour. “This is a Christian sports environment. Winning isn’t the main goal. Our players get to play without all the pressure and we, as Christian volunteers, get to minister to the entire family in a non-church service setting,” Mansell said.
But there is much more to it than just paying your fee and kicking a ball around the field. Kids are taught a positive sports experience. It is a friendly sports environment where children have fun and get the coaching they need on the fundamentals of the game. The Upward league has a unique drafting system that ensures all kids are placed on a team that is well balanced and suited to their skill level. Trained volunteer coaches and referees encourage your child and there is always a time that life experiences are shared with the group. There are no bleachers on the field but sports fans are encouraged to bring their blankets or chairs to watch the games.
There are multiple recognition awards and parents and players have access to TeamUpward.com. Practices begin the first week of March 2012 for the upcoming soccer season that runs until mid May. The first game is on March 24th on the grounds of First Baptist Church Gulfport. Those interested in learning more about the soccer or basketball programs and all they have to offer may contact Kim Steube at FBC Gulfport @ 228-831-3400.

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