Dear Soccer Parents and Players: January 2010
In my 2009 letter to you, I spoke of economic difficulties. Little did I realize those difficulties would persist and even deepen. This has had and will continue to have consequences for the ASA program. While we have a number of issues to confront, like always, I wish to share the good news.
ASA continues to grow. Probably reflecting the demographics of Alexandria, our 6’s and 7’s age groups are the largest in memory. We expect the same with this spring’s U5 group. If any of you had players of that age or happened by Potomac Yards this past fall on a Saturday morning, you saw what appeared to be a soccerfest every Saturday morning. It was really great to see hundreds of athletes. Their families and friends swarming the complex. The fact that we were able to put these children at PY and create such a festive atmosphere owes in part to our past efforts to get some “turf” fields built in the City.
The past year also saw a continuation of the ASA program, begun in the Fall of 08, run in conjunction with local PTA’s, to introduce soccer training as a component in after-school programs at several elementary schools. We have now done this with three schools and hope to do it with a fourth this Spring. This program has helped us expand our outreach in pursuit of ASA’s goal that every child who wants to play organized soccer can do so, regardless of economic circumstance.
Now, the challenge ahead. ASA is facing economic pressure as we all are. We have held our fees steady since 2004 while other local jurisdictions have raised theirs’ substantially. In the interim, the ASA budget has taken a number of direct hits: (1) the City has discontinued its assistance to the program ($5000/annually); (2) our insurance costs increased significantly; and (3) other critical expenses have increased as well (referees, paint, goals, etc.). At the same time, we have faced increased cost associated with our scholarship program which assists those in financial need so that their children will be able to participate in the ASA program. The cumulative result is we must raise fees. The 2010 annual rate will increase by $15 per player. This will enable us to maintain our services at their current level.
Additionally, the program to upgrade the fields in the City faces renewed pressure. Last year the City Council, after urgings from folks like you, set aside money in the Capital program to construct another turfed and lighted playing field. That was a tough decision for the Council in light of the constrained budget situation. This year the budget situation appears to be even worse. Recent indications are that the School Board wants the money set aside for another turf field to be shifted to cover the schools’ capital needs. We must remain vigilant on this front and remind the Council of their previous commitments.
I am confident if we all pull together we can get through the tough times we are currently facing and come out the other side with a stronger, more vibrant program that continues to serve the needs of all of our members.