Beginning June 25, the Dunn Police Athletics and Activities League will be introducing soccer to complement its basketball and wrestling programs.
Dunn PAL Executive Director Capt. Rodney Rowland oversees both the after-school and athletic portions of the program. He recently met volunteer Jonathan Bridges, who will be heading up the soccer organization. Bridges, a native of Charlotte, graduated from Campbell University and is hoping to establish a soccer culture in Harnett County.
“This is something that could be huge for a community,” he said. “Looking at the culture around the world and seeing how it affects different countries in South America and Europe, it brings the entire continent together. Just thinking about what it could do for the community by changing how we interact with each other and the way we view each other, it can create an opportunity for everyone to come together.”
The PAL has run boys basketball and co-ed wrestling for years now, but soccer will be an entirely new venture for the organization. Rowland envisions plenty of added opportunities with its inclusion.
“It fits into our mission of filling playgrounds, not prisons,” Rowland said. “Just like our basketball program and our wrestling program, it feeds into our local schools. It gets kids involved in activities rather than criminal actions. We will be working with the recreation departments to have a recreational component as well as traveling out of town to compete.”
Registrations are currently being accepted now through June 24 in Harnett, Sampson, Johnston and Cumberland counties. The program will begin with a summer academy to teach players the fundamentals of the sport. Sessions will begin June 25 through Aug. 15, every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. The exact location for these sessions has yet to be determined, with Rowland and Bridges waiting to see where most of the registrations come from.
The goal is to set up teams of varying age groups that will be able to travel and compete with other teams in the greater Fayetteville area, while providing a more affordable option than most travel teams. Kids ages 5-18 will be eligible to participate.
Along with players, the PAL is seeking help from volunteer coaches. A coaches meeting will be held June 20 at 6 p.m. at the main office location. Anyone with an interest in coaching can contact the main office at 910-892-1873, or visit PAL at 610 Fairground Road in Dunn.