The popularity of youth soccer in New Hanover County seems to be on the rise. With so many more kids getting their kicks, two local soccer organizations are competing for field time. Director of the Pleasure Island Soccer Association, Mike Bennett said, “If we lost these fields, we would lose our program.” The Pleasure Island Soccer Association, also known as PISA, uses two fields at Veteran’s Park for many of its games and practices. On the other side of town the Cape Fear Soccer Association has several fields it calls home. Paid for, in part, by New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington. “This is where we operate on a regular basis, as well as two or three other locations around town,” said director of Cape Fear Soccer Association, Peter Broadley. “The county and the city both contribute to that organization to provide a program at a fraction of the cost if we had to provide it ourselves,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson. Cape Fear Soccer also uses the fields at Veteran's Park for weekly practices. PISA's director said this just is not right. “The side issue that's a concern for all of us is that we're continuing to fund a private organization with public tax money,” said Bennett. Bennett said PISA needs both fields. He doesn't understand why they would have to share the fields with an organization that's received hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax payer money, specifically for new fields. “I've offered the fields to them to come out and practice in the evenings, to come out and use the fields for matches on the weekends and they've yet to take me up on that offer,” Broadley said. Broadley said the real issue is light. “It just comes down to the lights. Having that light available to practice under once it gets dark which is around 6:30 at night right now.” Bennett added, “Competition for these fields has been an ongoing concern due to a shortage of field space in the county, but especially lighted fields.” Broadley brought in generators to light some of the fields at the Cape Fear Soccer Complex, but with more than 2,500 athletes there's just not enough money to light all of the fields. This could lead to the same conversation next year. Broadley said he is ready to cut out the middle man, and sit down to work out a schedule for the future. “I have not really had that opportunity and I would welcome that opportunity still.” County commissioners have decided to award the fields to PISA for the remaining three weeks of the season. Jason Thompson said next year, all of the field assignments will be in writing before the season begins, but that may mean more licensing requirements for each of the organizations.
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