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Soccer in the Black community

Jerriel Xavier Biggles | 7/20/2011, 5 p.m.

One young group of soccer-mined Angelenos may have had more than a passing interest in the Women's World Cup matches held in Frankfurt, Germany.

This would be Region 1031 South Los Angeles Chapter of the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), which covers Baldwin Hills to Windsor Hills. The region has been in existence for nearly eight years and is home to a league that is half African American and half Latino and was definitely impacted by the World Cup finals, which the United States lost to Japan in penalty kicks.

Rudolph Charles, regional commissioner for Region 1031, says he believes that this World Cup gave girls in the under 10 and under 12 leagues a positive influence, because of their determination to play soccer. "Seeing those ladies play in the World Cup is a way to take things to a whole new level," he said.

When Region 1031 was created, Charles said the idea was to bring soccer to South Los Angeles. And while he does not know if the intent was to recruit more Blacks, that has been the result.

Initially the Black-Latino ratio was 70 to 30, but there has been a shift in the numbers of young people signing up for the sport recently, and now the split is a 50-50.

Charles, who believes his is the only region in Southern California with such a high concentration of African Americans, also believes that the interest in soccer among girls in the Black community is growing yearly. He also notes that a new region is on the horizon in Watts, and may come to fruition this year.

Fall registration in Region 1031 is currently open to kids ages 4 to 18. If they can't play soccer, the coaches can teach them. The region also has events in session already like a soccer clinic. The clinic started July 9 and will conclude on Aug. 13. Parents can select which week to attend but must apply for a minimum of three weeks. The cost is just $10 per week, and registration can be by email, info@ayso1031.org.

Region 1031 will also host a soccer camp on Monday and Tuesday. It's one week of intense soccer where future soccer stars will be working on drills and foot skills, participating in a daily tournament and much more. Also, the region has a program called AYSO Extra. This is a competitive soccer program which enhances the child's experience and individual growth while retaining the spirit of the game. The try-out schedule for the Extra program is Saturday at 10 a.m. and Aug. 6 at 10 a.m. These try-outs are for players registered in the Under 10 to Under 14 leagues.

The Region 1031 events will take place at the Kenneth Hahn Soccer Fields, 5401 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles.