LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After years of penny pinching and fundraising, 1,200 youths, ages 4-18, who participate in the Braden River Soccer Club program will finally enjoy a new facility starting Saturday, the opening day of the club's season.
The opening day, called Jamboree Day, begins at 10 a.m. in Lakewood Ranch Park and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony along with a bounce house, carnival games, food and beverages. As many as 50 youth teams also will play on the Lakewood Ranch Park soccer fields.
In February, the Braden River Soccer Club was given approval by Manatee County to move forward with an improvement plan for the 1,200-square-foot expansion of its facility in Lakewood Ranch Park.
The project, which took five years to fund, cost the club roughly $75,000."It's nice that we're coming to the end of it," said Brenden Moriarty, Braden River Soccer general manager. "The project is complete and ready to be used by kids."
The club submitted a request for expansion last September. The expansion was broken into two parts: a 600-square-foot interior facility that will serve as a meeting room and a 600-square-foot under roof, outdoor facility.
The indoor expansion will allow for two rooms, a meeting room for coaches and head staff and an
educational/meeting room for players, which will include video technology to review game film along with a dry erase board.
"What we had before was a room for everything," Moriarty said. "We really out grew it."
Raising funds for the expansion wasn't easy.
"We actually expanded our services during the same period of time," Moriarty said. "We had to be been extremely cautious during that period of time."
Moriarty said the organization received a boost from outside vendors, who after being contracted to service the program's events, donated portions of their profits back to the club.
"Every penny we get like that goes back to the general fund," he said.
The club offers other programs, including the Braden River TOPSoccer program, a local affiliate of the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer initiative, allows children ages 4 and older with disabilities that include Down Syndrome, autism, Asperger's Syndrome, attention deficit disorder and other developmental and physical disabilities to participate in an actual soccer season.
The general recreational program, which begins Saturday, is for youths ages 4-18 and a competitive program is for traveling teams that play other club teams around the nation.
The club has several teams that are nationally and state-ranked and last year, two teams advanced to club-level state final fours.
"People love this place," said Mark Wolfe, an assistant coach and father to three of its members.
"It's such a positive for the children."
For more information on the club, visit www.bradenriversoccer.org.