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Officials mull special needs soccer

Anyone who watched the special needs T-ball league this summercan attest to the thrill of victory when a child who hasn’t beenable to participate in sports makes it to base for the firsttime.

As a result, the Brookhaven Recreation Department wants to givespecial needs kids the chance to score their first goal on thesoccer field.

Recreation Department Director Terry Reid said a meeting will beheld Monday night to see if there will be enough interest to launcha special needs soccer team. He said the teams are for ages 5 to13, but they are more based on the child’s ability. If a child isnot within that age range but has special needs, they may beregistered.

“The T-ball was so successful we’re trying other sports,” saidReid. “What made it so successful was the support from the wholecommunity. The kids had a ball because this was the first teamworkexperience of their lives and they felt like they were part of thesystem.”

Reid said if the soccer ends up as successful as the T-ball did,his department will work to put together other sports leagues forspecial needs kids, so that they are able to have a full sportsschedule just like their brothers and sisters.

“Yes, we’re going to try to have other sports, too,” he said.”We’re taking them one step at a time and trying every sport out tosee if it will work. Hopefully we’ll be getting something puttogether to keep them busy all year round, just like the other kidsdo.”

Watching the kids learn to play the games can be one of the bestparts, Reid said.

“The first day we went to practice, there were about two out of20 that could catch or throw or hit the ball,” he said. “But by theend everyone out there was doing something. It’s fulfilling to yourheart to see them not only learning, but having fun doing it.”

Reid said the league, like the other Recreation Departmentprograms, is aimed at letting children be involved in somethingoutside their homes or their classrooms.

“We want to give every child in Brookhaven a chance to take partin something,” he said. “And just like softball and T-ball, it’s a$35 entry fee, but don’t give up anything important to pay it,because we’ve got sponsors who will help. Don’t let the money stopyou from participating.”

Parents and guardians are asked to be on hand at every game.

“We expect parental support,” said Reid. “Each child should havea parent or guardian just like special needs tee ball.”

The league will play a schedule of eight games Tuesday eveningsat 6 p.m. Interested parents are encouraged to attend the meeting,and to call the Recreation Department at (601) 833-3791 fordetails.