World Cup brings new fans to the game of soccer

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – The World Cup has brought attention to the sport that seemed to have trouble catching on in the USA.  To see the soccer craze first hand, all fans have to do is head to Westfield, where people can find dozens of fields of dreams.

It is Monday morning in Westfield Indiana, and everywhere the eye can see are soccer matches underway.

Teenagers playing at Grand Park in what’s officially known as The Academy Playoffs and Showcase. Coaches from colleges around the country are scouting players from Indiana and the rest of the continental U.S.  Tara Lindley works for the Indiana Fire.

“Most of them I think their goal is to get to that college level. Earn some sort of scholarship to play at the next level. Which would then platform them to the MLS or maybe going over seas or something,” she says.

Consider that a year ago, the Indiana Fire Juniors Soccer Club, didn’t exist. It was formed when Carmel and Westfield soccer clubs combined, now it’s an affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire.

“I’m joining the Fire team next year and want to be prepared for the opportunity,” says Zach Conroy watching his future team play in front of the college coaches.

Even the Grand Park soccer fields are a sign of just how far the game has come in Central Indiana.

“Yea this facility is one of the best facilities in the country. And having this event here in its first year, just tells how amazing it is,” he says.

A few years ago, Hoosiers who wanted to showcase their soccer abilities usually had to leave Indiana to do it.  Jimmy Kim has four children who play soccer.  He says he’s seen the growth first hand over the past decade.

“All this stuff used to happen last couple of years in Dallas. Just a phenomenal facility. I think it’s going to track events like this going forward,” says Kim.

Opportunity in the world of soccer is starting to knock on Indiana’s door.

“It’s just centrally located in the United States. For this particular event when everyone comes from all over. It’s a great location. Great for the city of Westfield. And I think you’ll continue to see it, continue to grow,” says Lindley

Part of that growth is U.S. soccer’s commitment to come back to Westfield. They have agreed to have the Academy Playoffs and Showcase at Grand Park for at least two more years. The event runs through Wednesday. It’s free for those who want to go out and watch potential soccer superstars in action.

 

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