Police side with kids in pickup game dispute

By Mike Woitalla

My favorite youth soccer story of the spring comes from Birmingham, Alabama, where police officers responded to complaints about kids playing pickup soccer -- by joining the game.

“We get calls repeatedly on these guys playing and there’s one person who continually calls and kind of wants us to tell them to come inside. I’m not going to do that. Ethically, I can’t tell children to stop playing,” said Officer Jordan Burke.  He pointed out that the nearest playground was too far the children, so they have been using a patch of grass in the parking lot area of a tractor equipment company that is fine for  the kids playing there.

Burke posted a video of the police playing with the kids on Facebook with a note: "Please stop calling the police telling us to tell children to stop playing outside. This will be the result every time." (And Burke ensured WBRC news they only stop to play when call volumes are low.)

“When I was a kid, I had a police officer go out of his way to come play football with us, and it made a really positive impact on my life,” Burke said. “I hope it would kind of do the same thing for us considering most kids right now are raised to fear the police and that’s not what we want. That’s not what we need.”

“It’s really cool because they play with us and talk to us about being good,” 10-year-old Alejandro Martinez told WBRC.

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Charleston Battery leaves Development Academy, cites high school ban

South Carolina's only U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, S.C. Battery Academy, is leaving the program after nine years, because of its inability to "consistently provide practice and game fields and the recent defection of players back to the high school or local academy ranks," reports The Post and Courier's Andrew Miller.

“We’re really hoping that we can come back and continue the Academy next year,” said S.C. Battery Academy executive director Clark Brisson. “We’re exploring some different options and hopefully we will be able to return for the 2017-18 season."

Shilo Tisdale, the coach of powerhouse Wando High School, said, "I know there are some kids at Wando that play for The Academy, so they’ll probably come out next year. We’re lucky, we have a good bit of depth in our program, but I think there will be other high schools that benefit a lot if they get some of their kids back. I’m all for anything that promotes the game. I think this will benefit high school soccer."

SC Battery Academy Board of Directors' Statement

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Oregon 15-year-old wins Sueno MLS 2016

Alan Gaytan, a 15-year-old Mexican-American midfielder from Troutdale, Oregon, won the 10th edition of Sueno MLS, the Univision Deportes reality show talent search whose previous winners include 2015 MLS champion Jorge Villafana and Gabriel Funes Mori, who plays for Mexico’s Monterrey and has been capped by Argentina.

Gaytan, discovered by scouts at the Portland Timbers trials, receives an invitation to join a Timbers’ academy team.

Gaytan was among the 15 national finalists who took part in the four-day national finals in Southern California that included games against local MLS academies while coached by MLS Technical Director Alfonso Mondelo, former Mexico star Luis Hernandez and USA Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda.

“Gaytan impressed us with certain details and high quality soccer subtleties,” said Mondelo. “His first touch along with his movements with and without the ball, as well as the intensity with which he approaches the game made him stand out.”

Villafana, after winning the inaugural Sueno MLS, joined Chivas USA’s youth program and played 86 MLS games for Chivas USA before moving to Portland Timbers, whom he helped win MLS Cup 2015 before transferring to Santos. Funes Mori joined FC Dallas’ academy before moving back to his native Argentina to play for River Plate.

2016 Alan Gaytan (Troutdale, Oregon)
2015 Baltazar Duran (Cicero, Illinois)
2014 Johnny Chavarría (Las Vegas, Nevada)
2013 Alexander Soto (Elizabeth, New Jersey)
2012 Armando Flores (Anaheim, California)           
2011 Birnis Adames (Camden, New Jersey)               
2010 Nelson Castro  (Houston, Texas)
2009 Alberto Lopez (Aurora, Illinois)                   
2008 Gabriel Funes Mori (Arlington, Texas) and Briant Reyes (Downey, California)
2007 Jorge (Flores) Villafana (Anaheim, California)

5 comments about "Police side with kids in pickup game dispute".
  1. Lawrence Kedger, May 23, 2016 at 6:21 p.m.

    Cops playing soccer with kids. Gotta love it!!

  2. cony konstin, May 23, 2016 at 8:07 p.m.

    We need 600,000 futsal courts in our inner cities and suburbs so our kids can play king of the court, 24/7/365, for free and with no adult interference. Police officers always welcome to join in to either get their butts kick or kick some bodies butt. I love it..

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, May 26, 2016 at 10:20 a.m.

    Haven't heard from this guy in a while - still posting the same nonsense about futsal courts every time I see. Even where it has nothing to do with anything.

    Why 600k futsal counrts? Why not 7 billion? Imagine how good w'd be then if this entire country was just one enormous futsal court!

  4. Bob Ashpole, May 23, 2016 at 9:20 p.m.

    Best news story I have seen in many years. Way to go, Birmingham PD.

  5. Richard Brown, June 10, 2016 at 1:26 p.m.

    Cops were hated where I lived when I was a kid.

    It's a very good move to show they are actual real people and not just machines.

    Here in Brooklyn, NY cops play firemen a game of soccer at mid wood high school for charity.

    Maybe they should do that in Alabama to raise some money to build a play ground for kids in that area.

    I would donate to that cause.

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