Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007

PTA meetings in Beltsville aren’t just for kicks

Group hosts soccer expo to attract parents and pupils

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Christopher Anderson⁄The Gazette
Mani Walcott (right), 11, and Alehandro Porillo, 9, both of Beltsville, vie for the ball during a pickup soccer game at the Beltsville Elementary School PTA’s ‘‘Kickin” event Sept. 27. The group sponsored the event to promote soccer among pupils and recruit parents for the PTA.
It might be the one time this school year where ‘‘just kicking it” was encouraged at Beltsville Elementary School.

Dozens of children and parents turned out for the school’s PTA Soccer Expo on Sept. 27. While many kids played pick-up soccer on the expansive playground with their friends, others waited in a long line to get Stephen DeRoux, a midfielder with D.C. United, to autograph an array of free gifts given out by the team.

‘‘The aim is just bringing people together and connecting them with the school in some way,” said parent Jeremy Roberts, who organized the event.

Roberts said the group decided to have a soccer event as a way to get more parents to attend the PTA meeting, which was held following the expo.

His daughter, Anisa, 7, plays soccer with the Beltsville Boys and Girls Club and said she likes soccer because she makes new friends.

Keith Walcott, a coach for the Metropolitan Futbol Club, handed out flyers promoting the nonprofit, which encourages youths to play soccer in hopes of securing scholarships.

‘‘The main purpose of the expo is to educate the parents and kids as to the soccer sources they have,” Walcott said. ‘‘It brings the kids together after school and by bringing the kids together, you bring the parents together.”

Some of the pupils at the expo play soccer already.

‘‘I like that you have to work as team,” said Irene Gomez, 10. ‘‘The most fun is when we make a goal and win.”

‘‘It’s fun to run with the ball with your feet,” said Alejandro Portillo, 9, ‘‘My favorite part is kicking for the defense.”

DeRoux, who graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville, was the most popular person at the expo. He signed autographs on mini soccer balls, posters, T-shirts, and No. 1 Fan Hands.

DeRoux advised aspiring young soccer players to develop a love for the game and not just play because the coaches or parents want them to play.

‘‘They should enjoy the game and have fun while they’re playing. Some coaches are too serious. They should add more fun to the game,” he said.

E-mail Deborah Stoudt at dstoudt@gazette.net.