Each weekend hundreds of youth soccer players converge at the Youth Sports Inc. fields in Lawrence. When they arrive, they become part of one all-encompassing league: the Kaw Valley Soccer Assn.
There are 25 KVSA teams and more than 300 players in the Club league alone. Club teams are competitive, more so than the Recreational league, which includes the "Hobbits," a league for the smaller kids that does not keep score.
One level higher than the club teams is the Premier league. This league is where skills learned are put to the test.
Mauro Nobre coaches several teams of boys in the Premier league, but has also been the director of the Club league for the last eight years.
Nobre said the Club league was designed to prepare players to play at the next level.
"One of our guiding principles is that kids have more fun if they have more skills," Nobre said. "The enjoyment multiplies as they get better."
In order to meet that goal and teach those fundamentals, Nobre said the league brought in trainers, as well as nationally-licensed and volunteer coaches.
Jerome Davies, father of three KVSA players, said the league and the coaches are succeeding.
"At the recreational level, (the coaches) tried to provide basic instruction on the game," Davies said. "As they've gotten to be older, (the boys) have been able to see how what they do on the field leads to success as a team."
Nobre called that learning process "poetry in motion."
He said his favorite part about running the league and coaching was watching kids with simple potential learn the fundamentals.
Eventually, those players gain confidence in their abilities as part of a team.
"They combine with each other, coming up with brilliant plays, playing off each other," Nobre said. "It's what's kind of beautiful about any team sport, the whole team playing as a single mind."
The KVSA Club league caters to kids age 7 to 14. Players at every experience level can find a place in the league. While both boys and girls are welcome to try out for any team.
The league's attention to making the kids better has paid off.
Davies' two oldest sons, Brennan, 8, and Parker, 10, both began in the Recreation league. The pair worked their way through the Club level and now both play in the Kaw Valley Premier league.
Because of his sons achievements, Davies highly recommended Nobre.
"He's very gifted," Davies said. "He has a wonderful passion for the game that he instills in the kids."
Though the nine-game Kaw Valley fall season began Aug. 26, there is still time to get involved in what the league has to offer.
Interested players can consider signing up for the league's spring season.
Nobre said there was enough talent in the area to fit into the game.
"Lots of kids in town are good athletes," Nobre said. "I wish they would give soccer a try. It requires talent, but it brings an incredible joy."