Forest Park’s youth soccer season opened Saturday with eight of Forest Park’s soccer teams – from pre-school to varsity – playing on the park district soccer field all afternoon.

Independent of the park district, the Forest Park Youth Soccer Association runs two eight-week seasons in spring and fall. Forest Park Youth Soccer Association President John Hosty has run the league for five years. “This was a well-run organization when I got here, and we’ve tried to do something new every year,” said Hosty.

The group hosts a cleat exchange for parents, said Hosty. They keep uniform costs low by wearing reversible jerseys that players can keep for a couple of years. The league costs $50 for early registrants and $60 after that.

Spring schedule conflicts between baseball and soccer, have been problems in the past, Hosty said. “In January this year we got together [with youth baseball organizers] and worked out the whole schedule. I always tell parents, soccer [takes place] both spring and fall. If there’s a conflict, play soccer in the fall and play baseball in the spring.”

This year, FPYSA is attempting to get more brand recognition by displaying their logo – a soccer player inside the Forest Park village logo -on hats, bags, T-shirts and jackets.

The logo has already worked its magic on one assistant coach: Matt Bird, an English soccer coach from Essex worked for the Arsenal Football Club and is experienced coaching community soccer teams. When he moved to Forest Park early this year, in preparation to wed his fiancee, he saw the logo on a Madison Street banner. “I had a look online and contacted [FPYSA].” He’s now a volunteer coach.

Bird says he’s impressed with the Forest Park players, “When you tell them what to do they all listen. They all turn up and do as they’re told. They’re a brilliantly behaved bunch of kids.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...