DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — For almost a decade, Evodio Bernabe wished for a place in the Highland Lakes where adults could play soccer — but to no avail.
“If adults wanted to play soccer, we’d have to travel to Round Rock, Austin or other places,” he said. “We were always traveling.”
Bernie, a coach with the Granite Country Youth Soccer Association, pressed local officials for a spot for a recreational adult soccer league. But he didn’t have much luck.
“There really weren’t any fields unless it was for youth,” he said. But recently, Marble Falls city officials granted Bernabe’s wish — with conditions. They offered him a space on the south side of Johnson Park.
“They told me there was one condition,” Bernabe said, “you have to provide everything. The city would give the space, but I had to come up with the goals, the lines — everything else.”
Instead of getting upset, Bernie was ecstatic. He gathered up goals and other equipment to set up the pitch in Johnson Park. With the field now set, Bernabe is inviting the community and soccer players to check it out.
And there’s been a lot of interest so far.
“I already have 12 teams signed up,” Bernabe said. “I’ve actually had to turn one or two away because I have to have things done by August (2) because then the city has to get (the park) ready for LakeFest. People definitely have wanted this.”
While the Marble Falls adult soccer league is new, the excitement and interest in adult soccer isn’t. Without a local place to play, many Highland Lakes adults made regular trips east to Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock and other communities for soccer.
Bernie said he’s helped with an adult 30-and-older league in Round Rock called the Old Man’s League for a number of years. Now, local players can save on travel expenses. Plus, Bernabe said that as word gets out about the Marble Falls adult league, teams from outside the area will likely head this way to compete.
“Soccer is growing in popularity,” he said.
He said there’s been a significant increase in the number of youth participating in the Granite Country association. He added that Burnet also has a youth soccer league. And the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District approved adding soccer to its sports department, though the first year will be as a “club” sport.
Last year, Marble Falls ISD added soccer at the middle school level to complement its high school soccer program.
“And it’s just going to keep growing,” Bernabe said.
He said the Marble Falls adult league is a recreational league.
“It’s going to be a very family-friendly thing,” he added. “On weekends (during tournament and play), I want to bring in some of those bounce houses for the kids, and families can barbecue or have picnics. I want a great family atmosphere.”
Anyone interested in the league may contact Bernabe at (830) 377-7255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.