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Soccer, the import sport, takes hold among Jewish kids

A Denver Kicks soccer game © Neil RosenfeldBy Griffin Hughes

Every four years, the world unites to watch the greatest tournament in sports: the FIFA World Cup.

The world, that is, minus the United States.

These days, however, the US seems to be more accepting and open to the game of soccer. Soccer goes by many names — futbol, the beautiful game, the world’s game — but here in the US, it’s always been soccer.

In a globalized world where everything is accessible, easily reached over the Internet, sports all over the world are far easier for us in the US to watch. That’s why soccer in the US has seen an exponential growth in the past ten years.

More than a third of America’s kids participate in soccer, according to a study by BJ Pheasant from Indiana University Bloomington. Pheasant also notes that, in Massachusetts, 99% of youth through the age of 14 participate in soccer. Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the US, and continues to grow each year.

In Colorado, we’ve seen a rapid growth in soccer which has led to 44% of our youth to participate in the beautiful game.

Some of that 44% is made up of the Denver Kicks, a recreational youth soccer league whose games and practices are exclusively on Sundays.

This schedule benefits Jewish children of observant parents, who would be unable to get to games on Saturdays. What better way is there to tell the game is hitting the mainstream than when it starts catering to smaller demographics?

Soccer has been the world’s game for over 100 years, but it seems like it’s just reaching our hard heads here in the US now. The reality is, though, that it’s been growing, and it’s been growing all over the country.

There are far more opportunities to play soccer at every level than there were even ten years ago. It’s growing in the Jewish community, with more leagues like the Denver Kicks becoming accessible to Jewish children.

As Americans, we’ve always been disconnected from the rest of the world’s fans from a sports perspective. For the last sixty years, college and professional football has been our go to game, while the rest of the world continues to eat, sleep and breathe soccer. We’ve always been disinterested: it’s too boring, it’s too slow, there’s not enough contact, the terminology is funny.

But with more and more kids playing and loving the game, isn’t it time for us to take notice? Soon, soccer will be as accessible and significant to us as football and baseball, and the growth starts with  leagues like the Denver Kicks, who give the gift of the world’s game to kids who might have been unable to play otherwise.

At the end of the day, the world’s game is our game. That’s becoming the case more and more each and every day. Soon, soccer will be one of the biggest sports in the US.

We are seeing a transformation of the sport in front of our eyes.

The world’s game is our game.

Hot Shot Sports will be taking over the league in July. The Denver Kicks name and format will be retained. Information: or

Griffin Hughes can be reached at

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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