Inside Sports for Sunday — December 18, 2005

• One ball, two goals, few fans

One ball, two goals, few fans

By Duane Shimogawa Jr. – The Garden Island

It doesn’t take an arborist to figure out that soccer isn’t that popular in the United States.

In fact, most people don’t know that we even have a pro soccer league (MLS) or the names of any of our World Cup team members. Also, I don’t think we know that soccer’s original name is, “Futbol!”

But for some reason, soccer remains the top youth sport in the country.

With AYSO, HYSA, ODP, and more, the sport seems to be growing with every year that goes by, but after one enters high school, the interest goes downward.

Some say the sport is boring; others blame the lack of support because of the fact that soccer wasn’t born in America.

Whatever the reason though, it’s still a great avenue for Kauaians to get a free ride to college.

Recently, Anahola’s Mariko Strickland completed a highly successful freshman campaign at San Diego State.

Strickland is on full scholarship for soccer and competed on the island from when she was around three feet tall.

Others playing on the mainland at the next level include Cody Kimura and Cole Brandeburg for Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Current Kapa’a girls soccer head coach Crissy Marti made an appearance at the pro level and another Warrior standout, Andrea “Da Jaguar” Alfiler, is now the head coach at Tulane University in Louisiana.

Waimea’s Desmond Rodrigues played collegiately and Chad “Mighty Mouse” Thompson, a state-level player, will be the next Menehune to make it to the next level.

And Amber Thronas, a Kaua’i star, is now at Western Oregon University.

Those mentioned above are just a tiny contingent of individuals who are reaping the rewards of what soccer has to offer.

The soccer fan base on the island might be small, but the amount of high-schoolers heading off to the big time is reason enough to respect the sport.

The only reason I used to like soccer was because of my two cousins, Aeson Pu’u and Justin Ihara, who both played KIF soccer.

Pu’u suited up for Waimea and Ihara was a standout for the Red Raiders.

But if it weren’t for them, I think I’d skip out on the soccer sessions on Saturday afternoons.

However, after witnessing the AYSO, HYSA, and KIF matches around the island, it’s not hard to get caught up in the action.

I used to think that because of the low score, there must be no action or excitement in the game, but boy was I wrong!

It turned out that there is a calming effect when watching the players precisely cut through the grass for the ball and when a goal is scored, it’s almost like an explosion that’s been waiting to happen for thousands of years.

Few fans or not, I know I’ll be waiting for the next explosion.


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