Young soccer players celebrate a goal.
Oak Pctrkers are playing in youth soccer leagues with Jewish schedules
11111 hen Mark Phillips
moved from Israel to
Oak Park two years
ago, one of the first
things he did was to
enroll his son, Segev, in a local youth
soccer program. But Phillips, a native
of England — "where soccer's taken
a little bit more seriously than here
in the States," he says — was
dissatisfied with the league.
Phillips checked out the Royal
Oak • Youth Soccer Association
(ROYSA), got a team together and put
it in the league. He coached a team
in ROYSA last year, and this year
coaches one of four teams from his
area, the Oak Park section of the
Berkley school district (one square
mile bounded by Greenfield, Coolidge
and 10 and 11 Mile Roads). Most of
the 56 players on the four teams are
One of the teams plays in the
under-12 league; one plays in the
under-10's and two play in the under-
eight-year-old division. Phillips
coaches one of the under-eight teams.
All four teams schedule their games
around their Jewish activities.
"It's one of the very few things, at
46 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1988
least in this area, that they can do
where Judiasm comes out as an im-
portant part," says Phillips. "They
don't play when they have Hebrew
school;they don't play on Saturday
(mornings) or holidays!'
The teams do play some games on
Saturday afternoons. "They go to
synagogue in the morning and then
kick-ass in the afternoon:' explains
Mark Phillips: From one son to four teens.
Phillips calls each ROYSA divi-
sion manager well before the season
and tells them on what days his
teams cannot play. The ROYSA of-
ficials then accommodate the re-
quests. "Up to now;' says Phillips,
"we've had absolutely no problem
Of course, the league does not ac-
commodate only Jewish needs. They
do not play on Sunday mornings
"because all the goyim go to church;'
says Phillips with a laugh.
Phillips' three boys, Segev, 10;
Roey, 8; and Idan, 6, play in the
league. Phillips coaches Idan. A
lifelong player, Phillips plays in an
Coaching, says Phillips, is "good
fun. Sometimes it's a little bit
frustrating, with the under-eights.
But all in all, it is good fun. I like
teaching a game that anybody can
play, from the skilled to the non-
skilled. And it's a real team game!'
Phillips feels that when the 1994 .
World Cup soccer tournament is
played in the U.S., soccer "is going to
explode in the States:'
Soccer, called football in most
countries, is the world's most popular
sport. In the early '70s, many
predicted that soccer was the sport of
the future in the U.S. While the game
steadily increased in popularity, it
has not become a major sport here.
Elsewhere, things are different..,
"In England you watch it all the
time on television. It's part of your
life," says Phillips. "It's just like
baseball here . . . Hopefully with the
World Cup being here, kids will see
how the game is supposed to be
Phillips is optimistic about the