Pelican Rapids was well on its way to a reputation as “Soccer Town, Heartland, USA,” when the 2020 pandemic hit.
Now 2021. Vaccinations are mounting. Our world becoming less—abnormal.
Plans for the revival of the popular Pelican Rapids soccer league were outlined for the Pelican Rapids City Council March 30.
Pelican Rapids United Soccer Association is working to take soccer to the next level, and PRUSA officer Rudy Martinez outlined the organizations objectives.
Broadly speaking, PRUSA’s main missions are to build youth soccer programs; support the program at the Pelican public school level; and build a competitive, well-managed Sunday soccer league.
Martinez asked for the Pelican city council’s blessing with the soccer league plans. The Brown Field soccer complex is on property owned by the city.
With the pandemic winding down, weekly league play is scheduled May 9 to August 15, all Sundays—from 5 to 9 p.m. Martinez expects a dozen teams, with as many as eight teams from within the Pelican area. The league has also hosted outlying teams, including Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Perham and Fargo-Moorhead.
The league is diverse. There are players from Mexico, Cuba, El Salvadore, Somalia and others.
Before the pandemic, the Sunday soccer action was a weekly highlight for many families. The games attracted 200 or more, and often included concessions and other activities. Especially well-attended were the final few weeks of the season, which featured playoffs and season-end tournaments and a festive atmosphere.
Because the goal is to make the Sunday league play a “clean, safe, family environment,” Martinez and the new slate of league officials are holding firm to “zero tolerance” with disputes and on-field conflicts. The league stand behind the referees and support them—especially given the shortage of certified officials, noted Martinez. Among the decrees: Immediate and automatic ejections of players who become physical and combative.
Another goal of the soccer association is to develop referees among young players and soccer enthusiasts. By certifying more officials, there will be more referees in the future—and young people can also earn extra money, especially if they go on to college in communities with soccer programs.