I'm writing in regards to the BOBS board's recent decision to no longer have the youth soccer program be affiliated with the California Youth Soccer Association.
What this means in the short term is that the youths of this town, effective immediately, will need to travel to a different city to play soccer. Long term — it's gone. The programs which generations of boys and girls have spent their young years enjoying — some going on to full-ride college scholarships, even the pros — is gone
This will affect boys and girls, ages 6 through 18, whether it's at the recreation level, the winter league level or the competitive level. This decision was made without input from coaches, parents or players.
I find this decision very troubling. As a coach for more than 15 years, I have coached boys, ages 6 to 18, at all three levels. Most of the players can barely afford to play in this town, and certainly will not be able travel out of town. What happens to them? What happens to all the youths who want to play soccer?
In this town, it's widely known that there's a gang problem. I believe that, as a community, we have the responsibility to have programs in place to steer these kids away from that life and offer a wholesome and healthy outlet for all children.
For anybody who questions this, I ask you to travel to any town within 40 miles of Lodi and see what a vibrant youth soccer program offers to a community. It not only strengthens the youths of the community, but if done correctly, it can have a positive economic impact as well.
In closing, I recently had a team of 17- and 18-year-old boys from both Lodi and Tokay high schools complete a spring season that ran from December through the beginning of April. The games took us from Elk Grove to Morgan Hill. As of now, this team cannot compete anymore because of the BOBS board decision.
I find this decision tragic for these boys, as well as the future of all the boys and girls of this town.