Lakewood Soccer, Recreation Department Agree To Partnership

Youth soccer in Lakewood just got a lot more unified. The 28-year-old Lakewood Soccer Association and the Lakewood Board of Education, which runs soccer programs through its Recreation Department, have signed an agreement that streamlines the city’s soccer programs and offers continuity from pre-school players up to high school, from recreational players to premier league players.

The agreement emphasizes cooperation between LSA and the Rec Dept. with regard to field access, registration, marketing and promotions and other administrative tasks of their respective programs. The two entities also agree not to compete directly with the other’s programming and to cross-promote each organization’s offerings of camps, clinics and leagues.

LSA has traditionally offered recreational and travel league play for children ages 4-14. The Rec Dept. has offered clinics and camps for many years and last year added the Cleveland Kickers Lakewood Academy (CKLA) to its programming. CKLA looks to develop soccer player s in a more intensive setting that encompasses training for both the mind and body in its goal to develop premier league players.

The agreement also calls for LSA and the Board of Education to organize an inaugural Lakewood Invitational Soccer Tournament to be held next August at fields around the city. Profits from the tournament and any successive tournaments will be split 50/50. The tournament will fulfill one of the goals of the agreement of raising the profile of Lakewood in the regional soccer community.

"This agreement puts in place a framework that gives us an opportunity to expand significantly the profile of youth soccer in Lakewood,” said LSA President Scott Suttell. “We are a volunteer-driven group that has been organizing youth soccer in Lakewood for nearly 30 years. Through this partnership with the Recreation Department, we can work together to make our city one that is known across Northeast Ohio for great soccer."

Under the agreement, LSA will continue to operate independently with its own Board, which will now include one representative from the Board of Education. The agreement calls for the two parties to work toward further integration of operations by August 2012.

“It is important that Lakewood can now present a united front when it comes to its soccer programming," said Schools Treasurer Rick Berdine, who helped broker the agreement. “LSA has been running a successful organization for more than two decades and with its expertise in running a soccer league and the Board’s established resources of the Rec Department, youth soccer in Lakewood will be well-positioned to develop complete soccer players for years to come.”

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Volume 6, Issue 19, Posted 8:25 AM, 09.22.2010