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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Indianapolis recreational soccer league expands to Martindale-Brightwood

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Since 2014, Indy City Futbol has been bringing residents of Indianapolis closer to their neighbors through the world’s game: soccer. With partnerships with Indy 11 and Big Car Collaborative, the league pits neighborhood against neighborhood in weekly games.

This year — after canceling last year’s season due to COVID-19 — the recreational league is back with new teams in the Martindale-Brightwood and Haughville neighborhoods.

Jordan Updike, league commissioner, said organizers got the idea from a league in Detroit, and the decision to expand to Martindale-Brightwood and Haughville — along with four other new neighborhoods — just made sense.

“One of the things we’re really striving to do is to create a league that not only reflects the diversity of Indianapolis neighborhoods and engage people of all backgrounds to be more involved in their neighborhoods,” Updike said. “We’re also trying to create lifetime relationships with people who may be our neighbors, who we wouldn’t have crossed paths with before. Soccer is the tool we use to do our small part in helping create a better Indianapolis.”

Along with added teams, the league also relocated its weekly games to Kuntz Soccer Stadium, where the stadium lights will make night games easier. This season, which begins May 19, the league hopes to recruit 100 more players than it’s had in previous years.

Julian Keefe, who has played mid-field for Mass Ave. United for three seasons, said the games are “casual and fun,” and also gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his hometown after he moved back after living out of state for a few years.

“It ended up working out really great,” Keefe said. “Someone I had competed against in high school lives down the street from me, so we carpool together. It’s a good way to take an hour or two out of your week and have fun playing soccer with a diverse group of people. It’s a cool way to see what different neighborhoods are like and get a feel for the character of different areas.”

While Keefe has been playing soccer his whole life, no experience is necessary to join the league. While it’s definitely competitive — the league champion is awarded with a trophy during halftime of an Indy 11 game — community involvement is a key component to Indy City Futbol.

“This contest adds additional points in the standing for the number of volunteer events and taking responsible transit, like biking, carpooling or IndyGo,” Updike said. “… We’re intentional about getting people engaged in their neighborhoods and being good citizens.”

To register for Indy City Futbol, visit www.indycityfutbol.com.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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