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Parks partnership to waive fees for some youth soccer

Parks partnership to waive fees for some youth soccer

A boy chases the ball during a soccer clinic Oct. 5 at Hillside Community Center. [Express photo/Regan Foster/file]

City, Comcast and Children’s Hospital unroll ‘Gamechanger’ to cover costs for K-2 coed league.

Some of Colorado Springs’ youngest soccer fans will get their kicks for free this year.

The Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department announced Wednesday that it will waive fees for kindergarteners through second graders who want to participate in the department’s spring soccer league. As many as 500 local children are expected take to the pitch for free, according to a press release.

The costs are being covered by a grant from Comcast NBCUniversal and supporting funds from Children’s Hospital Colorado. Both organizations have also pledged to recruit volunteer coaches from within their ranks to help keep things rolling.

The promotion has been dubbed “Gamechanger.”

“At Children’s Colorado, one of our primary goals is to keep kids healthy and out of the hospital,” Margaret Sabin, president of Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Southern Region, said in a statement. “Doing so requires the efforts of partnerships and programs in the community that help kids create healthy, life-long habits. … This opportunity will help more kids stay active and outside, and teach them how to build camaraderie and teamwork.”

As of Jan. 13, the city identified more than a dozen practice locations for the spring league. Those include Deerfield Hills Park, 4290 Deerfield Hills Road, and Soaring Eagles Park, 3196 Spotted Trail Drive, in Southeast. Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., is also among the participating practice sites.

Jamie Fabos, City of Colorado Springs chief communications officer, said the venues were chosen based on registration numbers. The parks department, she said, also works hard to ensure parents aren’t having to travel long distances to get their active kids om the field.

“They very much hope to expand leagues in Southeast if they get enough participation,” she said.

The Express reached out to Youth Sports Program Coordinator Will Davis for more information; however, he was not available by deadline.

Registration for K-2 soccer is open through Feb. 14 and may be completed via mail, by visiting the parks department at 1315 E. Pikes Peak Ave. or by filling out a from online . You can access and download the registration form here. There is a $3 processing fee for digital sign-ups.

The spring youth soccer season runs from March 9 to May 15. The city also offers leagues for boys and girls in the third-and-fourth, fifth-and-sixth and seventh-through-ninth-grade divisions. Enrollment for the older age groups ranges from $78 to $83.

“The benefits of youth sports are incredibly well documented, and we thought that if there’s any city that should focus on making sure those benefits are available to all, it’s Olympic City USA,” Fabos said in a statement. “While programs have been available in the past to help with financial obstacles, the Gamechanger promotion removes any shame or stigma associated with requesting such help, and just makes it incredibly easy to come out and be a kid. We very much hope that this program will grow to cover more sports and more age groups in the future.”