Youth soccer league helping players develop their skills

Sep 24, 2017

Every Saturday in the fall, the soccer fields next to Dartmouth High School come alive with a half-dozen concurrent matches as part of the Dartmouth Youth Soccer Association’s fall recreation league program.

With 450 kids in the fall recreation league this season, kids of all skill levels are developing soccer fundamentals and, for older kids, are developing a strong competitive edge as well.

“We focus our fall recreation program so kids can come out and have fun,” explained Dennis Leary, a director of the DYSA’s more advanced FC program.

The fall recreation program begins at the under-six level for five and six-year-olds, Leary explained, and ends at a co-ed program for its oldest and most experienced athletes.

The goals at each level differ with experience. At the under-six to under-eight levels, focus is placed on developing basic soccer skills. Instead of playing in full matches against other fall recreation teams, they spend more time practicing and play in scrimmage matches.

By the under-10 level, athletes are introduced to more technical and tactical concepts like positioning and scoring, and begin playing in complete matches every weekend.

As kids age and become more skilled, Leary said many will go on to either play soccer in high school, or join some of the league’s more advanced soccer programs.

That includes a fall and spring local competitive team, called the Dartmouth FC, and the premier-level Vipers travel team, which competes in regional matches in the Northeast Soccer League.

Howie Mallowes coaches one of the league’s under-10 teams. Through full matches and practices, he concentrates on developing his players’ positioning, dribbling, and passing skills.

His team includes Madalyn Duarte. Duarte’s been playing soccer for six years, inspired by family ties to the game.

“My mom used to play it and they really inspired me to,” she said.

Now at the under-10 level, she’s learning more advanced soccer concepts like technical kicking and dribbling, she explained.