The Lake Wales Soccer Club is an affordable, fun way for kids of all ages and skill levels to play soccer. Though the club is a part of the Youth Florida Soccer Association, it differs from other clubs in that the eight board members are all volunteers. Additionally, the club emphasizes their recreational and 3 vs. 3 leagues for kids who want to learn the sport in a friendly low-key environment. “We really want to meet the needs of the majority of kids, not just the ones with the best skills,” said Robbie Shields, president of the club.
The 3 vs. 3 leagues allow each kid to get lots of touches on the ball and avoids the typical “bunch ball” game that you often see with beginner teams. “When kids are young it’s very important that there’s not too many people so they all get to touch the ball,” said Shields.
The club offers a spring and fall season, as well as camps and tournaments during the winter and summer months. The spring season begins this month and ends in May. Shields encourages parents to get their children involved with sports at a young age to keep them focused and help them develop as mature citizens. “Sports, along with keeping you fit and healthy, also help you as a person,” said Shields.
Shields is passionate about sports, but was never a huge soccer fan until his kids started playing when they were young. It was during this time that Shields came up with the idea to start a soccer club in Lake Wales. When his daughter was 12, she had to play in the Bartow league and the only places to practice nearby were small baseball fields.
Shields’ still remembers his daughter’s first game that season. There was such a big difference between the size of the game field and the fields his daughter had been practicing on, that it was difficult to play to her full potential. “I came home that night and I was so frustrated and I wrote my first letter to the City of Lake Wales,” said Shields.
This was the first of many letters and fundraising efforts to finance the Lake Wales Soccer Club. “We’re very involved with the community,” said Shields. “A lot of the stuff was donated.” Typically, a project of this nature would cost about four million dollars, but due to the boards fundraising efforts, the total cost was about one million.
Four full-length fields, professional lights, and concession stands later, the soccer club has over 400 participants in the fall season alone. “The soccer park is like our child,” said Shields, who continues to be passionate about the success and development of the teams and facility.