Youth soccer in Clewiston gearing up for next season

CLEWISTON — The Clewiston chapter of the American Youth Soccer Association (AYSO) is starting to gear up for their next season.

The league is hoping to grow this year thanks to improvements put in place by the new board members of Clewiston AYSO, including better organization, superior equipment, a longer season and coaching clinics.

Clewiston AYSO board member Jessica Papesh says the board started their meetings earlier than usual this year in order to implement feedback from previous seasons.

“Soccer is such an important part of Clewiston,” said Ms. Papesh, “especially with the high school boys team coming off an incredible season last year. As a board, we really want to keep that same enthusiasm amongst the youth. We have already had several meetings to get things in shape for the upcoming season and we’re still several months away.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Clewiston AYSO
The Clewiston AYSO 10U team pose shortly before competing in the state tournament back in January.

Clewiston AYSO is planning to hold a kickoff jamboree for the first time ever this year on Oct. 5 and is striving to offer a reduced cost of entry for players wanting to join the league.

“The season kickoff jamboree is something the league has never done before and will really start the year off on a great foot,” explained Ms. Papesh. “They’ve always tried to do it at the end of the year when the season has already lost a lot of its steam. And instead of focusing on awards and bounce houses, we’ll actually be playing soccer. The reduced pricing this season is also something to be excited about so we can get more kids to participate. The season will be longer this year, with the games held once a week, so there will be a better opportunity to play more soccer.”

Last year it cost $95 per child to join Clewiston AYSO. This year the early bird price is set at $70 per child with $5 off for each additional child. That price includes a team jersey, team shorts, team socks, and a soccer ball. Board members are looking to extend the early bird pricing for as long as possible and are hopeful that local businesses will be able to sponsor teams which will help keep the price low for children looking to play.

Ms. Papesh, who played soccer in college at the University of Pennsylvania, says she was motivated to teach kids soccer because of the positive impact the sport had on her life.

“I was new to Clewiston last year, and someone heard I played soccer so she recommended me to AYSO,” Ms. Papesh said. “A few days later I found myself at a meeting, and ended up with a seat on the board and coaching a 10U soccer team. I think back on my youth soccer days with the best memories. Making friends, the satisfaction of learning new skills, and just the overall love of the sport. I’d love to see even more kids on the field this season experiencing that same feeling. This is a great way for a kid to learn the game of soccer. At each age group, the coaches will be focusing on what those kids should be practicing and learning to get to the next level. We want to make sure every player is having fun, and they learn those skills before the end of the season.”

The first practices are scheduled to begin in the middle of September, with the season ending in December. Clewiston AYSO is also having an in-person sign-up session at the Clewiston Public Library on Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The atmosphere we will set as an organization will have a major part in the overall success of the league,” Ms. Papesh continued. “From the top down we are setting a new standard for the league. Ultimately we are setting the tone for a really fun season, but we also want the kids to learn something every time they step foot on the field. It’s the job of the coaches to ensure every kid gets that opportunity.”

Parents interested in signing their kids up for Clewiston AYSO can visit or reach out to the board directly by emailing

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