JCPRD’s recreational youth soccer league is partnering with the Puma FC Soccer Club to offer a unique recreational soccer experience in Johnson County.
The resulting new league for players ages four to 14 will be called the JOCO Soccer League Powered by Puma FC, and will launch in March at Heritage Soccer Park. Registration for the new league is expected to begin as early as December.
“Our coaches will have the opportunity for some great on-field training and weekly curriculum ideas,” New Century Fieldhouse Coordinator Jamie Kempfe said. “Players will have more access to skills training and soccer camps. JCPRD will have hands-on access to soccer experts that will know the ins and outs of trends in the game as well as recommendations on rules and format of league play. Having a well -known soccer club from the area attached to JCPRD’s soccer league should help draw interest from families who may not have even heard of our league.”
“This program will truly put the player first and their happiness central in their development. We have created a developmentally appropriate environment which helps foster a player’s love for the game and puts that above anything else,” added Puma FC President Rob W. Millions. “The professional soccer coaches from Puma Futbol Club premier teams will be involved within the program to ensure the program grows and evolves according to the needs of the young athletes and families we serve.”
“We’re getting the club expertise for our recreation program, they’re getting the potential for first access for new players in their program,” added Assistant Superintendent of Recreation Shannon Sonnier. “This is an avenue for players to do more or to get more serious about their game and skills if they so desire. So if kids are interested in playing soccer above and beyond recreation ball, they’ll have an avenue to do that and a familiar club to do that with. If not, they will still get the experience of a low-stress recreational league. We feel like it is important to provide opportunities and paths for all ability and commitment levels.”
The Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners unanimously approved a ten-year contract with the Puma FC Soccer Club during its Oct. 21 regular monthly meeting.
Puma FC was founded in 2010 and currently reaches more than 1,500 kids with teams playing in both recreation and premier league teams throughout the Kansas City Metro area and surrounding communities. The group emphasizes the values of family, friends, competition, and community.
“JCPRD and Puma FC have worked together previously on other projects and leagues and have built a good relationship over the years.,” Kempfe said. “Puma FC had been interested in partnering with JCPRD’s recreational league for a few years but JCPRD never felt it was the right time until now. We felt now would be a good time to begin the partnership and work hard to grow the program in the rapidly growing area of southwest Olathe.”
“It gives JOCO Soccer League powered by Puma FC the opportunity to positively impact the development and growth of youth soccer in Johnson County,” Puma FC’s Millions said. “Through the partnership we want to help foster the right developmental environment for young players and help them find love for soccer to last a lifetime here in Johnson County. It’s the founding of a new culture for local soccer and all the families involved.”
The Heartland Soccer Association was previously the primary tenant of Heritage Soccer Park and its 18 soccer fields for more than 25 years, but left the JCPRD facility in 2018.
“We basically have a lot of fields and a lot of potential, so this has given us a direction to be able to serve the public,” Sonnier said of the new contract. “We see the potential in the marketplace to provide this niche. It can be as intensive or non-intensive as the players and families want.”
One emphasis will be making the leagues new-coach friendly.
“It can be pretty intimidating for someone who doesn’t have experience coaching, so we’re working to provide tools and teaching for those folks – you know, the parent who gets thrown into it because no one else steps up,” Sonnier said. “We want to make it a place that’s fun for all, and also takes the stress away from the process.”
Watch for details about the new program at JCPRD.com