This year, the 16th for girls’ soccer club Net-Surfers, is expected to be a sweet one.
After years of effort, the southern Indiana outfit hopes to open its soccer park on Highway 111, just past Gap Hollow Road.
Net-Surfers president Kevin Geron revealed they are “very close” to getting the 22 acre complex – formerly a farm site — open, expecting it to host games in the fall.
The opening is also expected to strengthen the club’s numbers to beyond a level not seen since it was founded in 1995.
“We believe we can have over 200 girls in the program by next spring,” said Geron. “This will be dependent on getting our soccer park open so all age groups can be practicing and playing at the new fields.”
A lot of volunteer hours have been put in by parents, friends and businesses, he said, to get their six small sided fields and one large full sided pitch graded and seeded.
“We have room for three more large fields once we get the funds needed,” said Geron. “We also have installed half of the parking lot, but need to raise more funding to complete the lot before fall.”
The state of the economy has made it very difficult for Net-Surfers to complete what is now a seven year project. However, the club has managed to secure a number of private donations recently which has helped give them a big push forward.
“Sponsorship levels are from $250 on up, but we’ve had a private donor sponsor a small field for $5,000 and five businesses have each donated $1,000, for example,” said Geron. “We offer various donation options to help support the park and will entertain any suggestions or offers to help get it open.”
At the moment, Net-Surfers is about $40,000 shy of having the park up and running this year. To put the finishing touches to it, it requires approximately $100,000. This would allow them to complete the large fields, install the parking lot, purchase goals and equipment, as well as complete a walking path and running trail around the property.
“It will truly be a great asset to the community to have more soccer facilities for all the youth in southern Indiana — not just our club,” said Geron. “We hope to share this with others for soccer and provide fitness with the walking and running paths.”
He added the opening should help Net-Surfers move the club forward by allowing them host their own home games and possibly an annual tournament.
“Long term we may have leagues for adults, a summer camp, or a 3 versus 3 league,” said Geron. “It really opens up options with the fields dedicated for soccer.”
This spring, Net-Surfers will have 130 girls playing for teams from U7 to U17.
The U7 team is new, and will play friendly matchups with some of the local recreational co-educational teams. All other age groups have just kicked off their Kentucky Select Soccer League campaigns.
“Clark County Soccer Association has been very accommodating to allow us to play our home games at their park,” said Geron. “Both they and Southern Indiana United have been very supportive.”
Another important development for Net-Surfers is this month’s addition of Rahman “Rocky” Batanovic as the club’s goalkeeper coach.
Batanovic, a goalie for the Louisville Lightning’s reserve team this past season, was born in Bosnia in 1987, spent his formative years in Germany and later moved to the Louisville area when he was 12.
He was a member of the Javanon ’87 team which won a national championship in 2006, and he helped start a co-educational soccer program at Fairdale High School.
“I believe that every kid can learn to love soccer as long as they have someone to build confidence in them while they are showing them how to enjoy the game and play the game the right way,” said Batanovic.
Director of coaching Dave Smith said it is great to see talent of this level working with their players.
“This is one of the dreams I’ve always had: to offer the same — or better — training, with the same — or better — facilities so that kids no longer feel the need to play for Louisville clubs to fully develop their game,” he said. “This dream is a long time coming, and very good news for our soccer families.”
If anyone is interested in helping the club, they can contact Kevin Geron at 502-648-3153 (email: email@example.com), or park administrator Tony Holland at 812-267-8478 ( email: firstname.lastname@example.org).