CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The sport of soccer is growing at a rapid pace in North Carolina.
In 2019, Charlotte got its first major league soccer team.
On the local level soccer clubs can be found throughout the city and even at the YMCA.
Rachel Gogal is a soccer coach for the YMCA and after a couple of weeks off is finally able to see her small team of girls.
“We’re back at it,” she said. “[We’re] very excited and just ready to have fun.”
Gogal was 4 when she fell in love with soccer.
“I played for goodness, 16 to 17 years,” she said. “I actually cannot play anymore because I had a pretty serious knee injury, so instead of playing I decided take all the knowledge that I gained over the years and try to instill it on some young and energetic little ones.”
After years of being off the field she decided to step back on, this time as a coach.
The timing couldn’t have been any better.
When Gogal started coaching for the YMCA, it had recently launched a new partnership with the Charlotte Soccer Academy.
“We’re excited about being involved where we can take our brand and our knowledge and curriculum from a soccer perspective and put it into the Y’s all around our community,” Brad Wylde said.
Wylde serves as the executive director of the CSA, and says together both groups will expand the reach of youth soccer in Charlotte.
The goal of this partnership is to combine both organizations' resources to ensure every child in the city has the same access to soccer programs.
It’s what motivated Gogal to sign up and coach.
“It’s such a great opportunity to come together as one team…to take the resources from the YMCA, the resources from CSA and combine them to better youth soccer in the community,” she said.
Gogal remembers what it was like to be out on the field, and now she’s looking forward to sharing her love of the game with those looking to play.
“The earlier we can get out here and teach these kids the fundamentals of soccer, the more likely they’re going to be able to continue to grow, and build that foundation and if they choose to continue in their soccer careers, then what a great way to start,” she said.
Both organizations have already began offering more recreation-level soccer programs for the spring season.
The YMCA is in need of volunteers who’d like to coach. If you’re interested you can find more information here.