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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014 4 years ago

Pub league looks to capitalize on soccer fever

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by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

The 2014 World Cup is in the books and soccer fever may be subsiding, but one local league is looking to capitalize on the surge in interest in “the beautiful game.”

Striker Soccer Academy of Orlando is taking registration through Sunday for its Blue 42 Sunday Pub Soccer League. The league is a co-ed, 11-on-11 adult league whose games will take place on Sunday mornings at the West Orange Soccer Complex beginning on August 10.

Billed as a social, relaxed environment to play the game, organizers for the pub league are optimistic that the interest in this year’s World Cup, and the growing momentum of Central Florida’s MLS-team-to-be — the Orlando City Soccer Club — will translate to strong participation in the West Orange County-based league.

“The World Cup has previously created surges of interest [and] this time we believe it will have an even bigger impact due to the TV and media coverage and [Team USA’s] success … in a very tough group,” Steve Crane, Striker Soccer’s director of coaching, said.

Crane’s league, of course, has the unique twist of being a pub league — something he says is common in Europe but no so much here in the United States.

After the games on Sunday mornings, players will get together at Blue 42 in Winter Garden for some snacking and to watch English Premier League games. The newly opened restaurant will open early on Sundays to accommodate the soccer fans as they watch the elite teams from across the pond do battle.

Having the “pub” element of the pub league is something Crane believes will be a win for all involved.

“This helps create the community spirit and social aspect — you familiarize with your opponents, share drinks and laughs with rival teams and soon you are all friends and part of something bigger than a sport or a game of soccer,” Crane said. “The pub will benefit from increased sales and obviously more exposure, the league will benefit from a friendly local bar to host everyone and assist in creating the right league atmosphere.”

The league emphasizes its social and fitness aspects over being overly competitive, welcoming beginners and experienced players who “want to enjoy the game.”

“Our sales pitch would be to come out, enjoy the beautiful game in a fun, safe environment … then enjoy the socializing afterwards with a group of like minded people,” Crane said.

Crane says the interest has been strong so far, with the hopes of fielding six to eight teams for the inaugural season.

More information about joining either as a team or as an individual can be found at soccerinorlando.com, by emailing Crane at [email protected] or by calling (407) 595-2095.

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