For kids of all backgrounds in Louisville, soccer is a universal language.

It’s less expensive than most other team sports, without a lot of equipment needed. Children of any age and gender can play, and former Louisville City FC standout George Davis IV noted that its popularity overseas, where they “live and breathe the sport,” gives it appeal to kids from immigrant families looking to connect with their peers.

So when Brian Edwards, a Jefferson Circuit Court judge, watched his two sons fall in love with the game, he noticed a glaring hole in Louisville’s youth soccer system.

“Where I found it to be problematic is the participants weren’t very diverse,” he said. “There were very few Black kids playing the sport — and even fewer kids from West Louisville — playing at a competitive level.”

West Louisville Soccer, now in its third season, was Edwards’ answer.

Edwards founded the growing youth soccer club in 2022 along with Marcus Harris, an experienced organizer in the West End, and Davis, who won two USL championships with Louisville City FC before transitioning to a role in the club’s front office.

Competitive soccer can open doors. Teens who excel at the game can land scholarships they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Davis, for instance, starred for the University of Kentucky’s men’s soccer team before launching his professional career and still makes a living off the sport even though his playing days are over.

Still, “in order to be around the best players, in order to be around the best coaches, you have to pay to play,” Davis noted. “Not every player has the means to do that, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the ability to play competitive travel soccer.”

Louisville’s most well-known soccer clubs are based out of the East End. The goal of West Louisville Soccer is to give kids from the West End, where poverty rates in the city are at their highest, a better chance to play by cutting back on barriers such as travel and a lack of access to quality coaching and facilities.

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Lucas Aulbach
Louisville Courier Journal