HILLSBOROUGH - Soccer enthusiasts scored the support of the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday in their appeal for new and improved recreational facilities.
Anson Dorrance, head coach of the UNC women's soccer team, was part of the soccer symposium task force that issued a report to the commissioners. The report highlighted the need for more fields and listed recommendations on how to develop soccer programs in the area.
"Chapel Hill and Orange County have name recognition as pioneers in the field of soccer," Dorrance said. "Now we need to step up and build fields to support the game."
Task force members, in their comments to the board, included that soccer players are forced to compete for fields because availability is increasingly limited.
Mauricio Castro spoke on behalf of various Latino teams in the county. He pointed out that soccer promotes cross-cultural understanding and community safety.
"We have a chance to fight crime," Castro said. "Young people are just hanging out on the streets when they could be playing soccer."
Task force member Patrick Sullivan said the University could contribute by giving some land to create soccer fields.
"We need to get the UNC Board of Trustees to see that this would serve both community and student interests," Sullivan said.
Rick Kennedy, a local physician and a soccer dad, said many of his patients participate in soccer and they almost always complain about the lack of quality fields. He said the commissioners needed to act as soon as possible to capitalize on the benefits soccer would bring to the community.
"Now is the time to act. The land is getting more and more scarce," Kennedy said in his address to the commissioners. "You are the ones who need to take action. We put you in office; we trust you to make a consensus."
After listening to the remarks of several task force members, the commissioners voiced their unanimous support for moving the soccer issue to the top of their agenda.
Commissioner Margaret Brown proposed making soccer the first agenda item for the Parks and Recreation Department task force, a countywide committee that will meet at the end of the month.
Commissioner Moses Carey said he wants to see a concrete proposal on how to expand the area's soccer facilities and programs no later than Dec. 2, when the commission sets its goals for 2001.
"If we don't turn this into a hot potato then it's going to turn into a cold french fry." Commissioner Stephen Halkiotis said.
"If we're going to make this a reality then time to do it is now."
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