Kent County running Union youth soccer league

The Delaware Union Soccer Club had been running a youth rec soccer league in Dover for the past several years. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — Clearly, last spring wasn’t the best time to be starting up a youth soccer league.

But Jeremy Sheppard feels pretty good that Kent County’s new program can get off the ground this fall.

Kent County Parks & Recreation actually agreed last winter to run the Delaware Union Soccer Club’s Dover rec league.

The Kent Youth Soccer League was supposed to begin play last spring before being postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheppard, Kent County Parks & Rec’s director, said teams are now slated to start practice on Sept. 1 with games beginning later in the month. The league is for player ages U6 to U18.

“We’ve been working a little bit behind the scenes together for a while,” Sheppard said about the Union. “Then they finally came to us and said, ‘Look, we’re not getting the rec numbers any more.’

“There’s so many different leagues going on. We thought it would be a good idea to join forces.”

Games will be played at Kent County’s Kesserling Field while the fields on Dover’s Lewis Drive — which Kent County still owns — may also be used. The league will follow the state’s ‘Play Sports’ health protocols.

There are also youth rec soccer leagues run by the City of Dover, DE Turf and parks and recs in Harrington and Milford. The status of those leagues this fall may vary.

With 175 kids already signed up at Kent County, Sheppard hopes registration will pick up as it gets closer to the season. More information is available at http://co.kent.de.us/parks-recreation/kysl-home.aspx.

“We kind of got into it a little bit late,” he said. “But, with any youth sports, people wait until the last second to do anything. We have OK numbers but I’d like to see more numbers at the younger levels if possible.

“That’s kind of where things start in any program. If you don’t have them at the bottom, you’re not going to have them at the top.”

Sheppard said the goal is to have competitive teams in the older age groups to compete against other rec programs in the state,

“It starts out as a true parks & rec program,” he said. “But then we’re going to try to bump it up a notch with trying to play other communities.”

All the parks & rec organizations are trying to get back to offering different sports programs again, said Sheppard, just as long as they can do it safely.

“These are organizations that are there to let kids and adults get out and do things,” he said. “We’re slowly going to get back into it. We’re trying to find our groove again.”