World Cup fever impacts northern Michigan
The World Cup has increased the popularity of watching soccer on TV, but it has also increased the numbers of people wanting to play the game.
The Michigan State Youth Soccer Association usually has 89,000 kids involved in soccer programs across the state, but they expect that number to grow to 96,000 kids next year.
â??It's really great how you drive around town and before it's always football or golf or baseball or hockey, of course and right now, the buzz is the world cup,â?? said Adam Gustafson, Board President of the Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer Association.
TBAYS is having their first ever summer camp this year due to the increased interest in the sport.
â??We were little stagnant about three or four years ago,â?? said Gustafson. â??The last two years weâ??ve had continual, gradual, successful growth.â??
Three years ago they had about 900 kids in their program, but this year it is closer to 2000. Coaches said some of that can be credited to The World Cup.
â??The momentum of soccer in the area has really kicked off,â?? said Chris Lund, TBAYS Coach and Camp Director. â??With The World Cup adding a lot more excitement to the general community, I think by piggybacking on the world cup theme it's really gotten a lot of excitement and driven up the numbers this year.â??
Lund said having soccer professionals to look up to is the reason itâ??s gained popularity with young kids.
â??These young players see some of the different professional players that play for their USA team and I think they start to identify and idolize these players and it really builds on and snowballs on that excitement,â?? said Lund.
Coaches said they believe soccer in America will soon catch up to the popularity it has in other countries.
â??Once it takes root, it grows,â?? said Roy Montney, â??It is the future sport of the United States. There is no question about it. It's the most popular sport in the world and it is no question it will be the most popular sport in the United States eventually.â??
The TBAYS summer camp is a five day event happening all week. Kids four to 13 are participating and it ends Friday with their own world cup game.