New sport to debut next week

First off, the title of this piece is misleading in one sense. Yes, a new sport will kick off next week in Blount County but it’s a sport that is one of the oldest and most popular in the world.

Soccer can trace its origins as far back as 1004 B.C. in Japan and games very similar to soccer were played in the early Olympics in Rome. The Roman games featured a soccer-like sport that had 27 men on each side, and more than twothirds of the players had to receive medical attention after the game.

The modern game of soccer, or “futbol” if you prefer, can be traced back to 19th Century England where the first rules for the game were created (The Laws of the Game) in 1863. It is still possible to visit the actual birthplace of modern soccer – the Freemasons Tavern in London.

Local youth soccer programs have thrived for years. Oneonta has had a youth program for close to 20 years (as has west Blount) and this past year more than 300 kids participated in the program.

Oneonta High School’s two teams (boys and girls) will debut next Thursday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. when Westminster Christian of Huntsville comes to Gilbreath Stadium for a girls game. A boys game will follow at 7 p.m.

Oneonta has been placed in Section 8 in Class 1A-4A and will face traditionally strong programs in Guntersville, New Hope, and Westminster Christian along with relative newcomers Columbia of Huntsville and Brindlee Mountain.

The boys teams will be solid – Guntersville and Westminster made the playoffs last year – but the girls section features 2008 state champion Guntersville.

The Redskins (and Lady Skins) deserve all the support the local community can give them and the players and coaches are to be applauded.

Also, the administration of Oneonta City School is to be commended for recognizing the young athletes deserve a chance to shine on the athletic field – just as others do on the court, diamond, and gridiron.