World Cup Brings Excitement for Local Fans

By Jonathan Cooper |

Published 06/16 2014 10:41PM

Updated 06/17 2014 11:16AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Millions of passionate fans watched on in excitement on Monday as the United States pulled off an upset win to open up their World Cup schedule.

And as the U.S. secured that win, a group of 11-year-old girls were playing soccer themselves - just on a much smaller scale.

"I like that you can play with your friends and you can play against your friends," said Reese Robertson, a soccer player practicing in St. Joseph.

Jerad Elliot coaches the girls. Elliot has played soccer his entire life and says he has seen the sport gain popularity in America over the years.

"When I was growing up, we had literally dirt fields and we had maybe three teams in the league and that's spanning five age groups so now you've got this amazing complex out here," he said, referring to the St. Joseph Youth Soccer Association.

Although he had to coach during the World Cup game, Elliot was still able to get updates.

"I've got a helper over there keeping me posted," he said.

The growing popularity of the sport, especially among children, is happening all across the country. According to the National Youth Soccer Association, membership has increased from around 100,000 in 1974 to more than three million in 2012.

"There's nothing really stopping it," Elliot said. "It's an amazing sport."

So whether it's kids, the pros, or the fans, soccer is here to stay.

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