TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – A growing group of ball players is not letting a lack of lighted fields in Texarkana stop them from enjoying their favorite sport.
Players say the field at Spring Lake Park is the only free public place to play soccer in town. The goals have no nets, and there are no lights.
“The only place that had lights were we could see was on a tennis court,” said JT Wendell, founder of Fancy Feet. “And we saw nets and we thought, ‘You know, hey, you don’t need anything but a ball and a square.’”
What started as a way to keep the game going after dark has evolved into a way to keep their sport alive.
“They’re shocked about soccer period,” said Jacobi Keener. “But when you tell them a tennis court, they’re just like, ‘How?’”
Wendell founded Fancy Feet Soccer about five years ago with a handful of friends. Now, dozens come to the Southwest Community Center on Monday nights to play. Not on a field, but on a court.
“The tennis court’s different, you know, but it’s fun all the same,” said Keener.
The basic gameplay is the same…just “fancier.”
“There’s not a lot of room to just beat your opponent with speed, so you have to learn how to out-maneuver them and be kinda fancy around the court,” said Wendell.
They said the smaller size of the court gives rookies a chance to learn the basics and strengthen skills better than on a field. The unique playing surface is introducing new players to the game, helping to grow interest in the sport.
“If people look at Texarkana as a soccer community like they do when they wanna recruit a running back for football, then everyone here starting from the little kids will have such more opportunities,” said Wendell.
Opportunities to draw scouts to the city recruiting for college scholarships.
The Fancy Feet players hope to raise enough interest in their sport to start a league with multiple teams this summer. They have also started a tournment with the goal of eventually raising enough funds to support upkeep of soccer fields at Texarkana parks.