HARRISONBURG — A new faith-based soccer program begins in the Harrisonburg area this summer. Harrisonburg Upward Sports will offer a 10-week soccer program for children ages 4 and 5 and in grades K-6, with practices beginning Aug. 27 and games two weeks after. Games will be played at fields on the grounds of Calvary Cross-link Ministries, which is sponsoring the league. The church is located at 4905 S. Valley Pike.
The program is a local affiliate of the largest Christian sports program in the United States. Upward Sports involves more than 530,000 children in 5,162 leagues, according to its website.
With devotions in practices and preceding games, as well as modified rules to emphasize participation and fun, the league offers an alternative to other organized sports programs. Time commitments are limited to one practice and one game per week.
Players are evaluated for experience and athletic ability at the beginning of each season, Campbell said. Teams are selected for parity and players are given equal playing time, as well as the opportunity to start in games.
League director Joshua Campbell says the new sports program is a different kind of outreach for the church.
“We do a lot of outreach in to the community to get people into our church, but our pastor [John Welborn] wanted to do something more expansive for the community, whether they came to church or not, that everybody could enjoy.”
Campbell said other sports were considered, but that soccer attracts a unique cultural demographic that seemed to fit with the Harrisonburg area population.
Calvary Cross-link Ministries is the second area church to offer an Upward Sports program. Summit Church of the Brethren, in Bridgewater, will host its second basketball season this winter.
Registration is open through July 30. Player evaluations are July 30-Aug. 1 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the church.
Cost is $48 and includes the uniform, a poster and magazine, a water bottle and other materials.
To register, call 434-1540 or visit www.harrisonburgupward.org.