Pelham United: city partners with YMCA to start soccer program

City and Pelham YMCA officials presented a plan for Pelham United, a competitive soccer program, to the City Council on July 21. (Contributed)

City and Pelham YMCA officials presented a plan for Pelham United, a competitive soccer program, to the City Council on July 21. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—A partnership between the city of Pelham and the YMCA will bring Pelham United, a competitive soccer program, to the city this fall. Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall and the Pelham YMCA’s Sports Director Erin Brown and Executive Director Jason Beasley presented a plan for the partnership and program during a July 21 City Council work session.

“We feel like it’s time to start a soccer program now,” Crandall said. “Partnering with the local businesses and the local YMCA is what we need to do.”

The program will focus on player development through skills training and quality instruction. The program will use a system of player evaluations, rather than tryouts, to field teams. This will better monitor individual improvement and challenge players to compete against themselves, Brown explained.

The program will also train coaches. Through a partnership with the Alabama Soccer Association, the YMCA will offer coaching instruction to parent volunteer coaches, teaching them “age appropriate coaching” techniques, Brown said.

The YMCA will handle the logistical side of the program, such as scheduling, marketing, coach training and registration, and the city of Pelham will care for and maintain facilities and upgrade the YMCA fields to match the quality of the city’s fields.

“We’ve realized as a movement that we can’t continue to build facilities and do things on our own,” Beasley said, noting the collaborative partnership between the YMCA and Pelham. “We need to do a great job of providing top-notch, high-end facilities.”

The YMCA will also offer a member rate for all Pelham residents who wish to participate in the league, charging $95 per child for the entire season, compared to a $135 fee for those residing outside the city limits.

Beasley and Brown presented a future projection for the program. The league will begin as a division III program this coming fall, competing against area teams such as Birmingham United Soccer Association, the Hoover club and Vestavia club. By year three, the league will consist of 400 children playing on three division II teams and a top-level division I team, making Pelham United one of the “top-notch” soccer programs in the state, Brown said.

“I think it’s time for a soccer program here… and I like the idea of the birth of Pelham United,” Crandall said.