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Grand Rapids in 1856

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The Soccer League

The Soccer League

GRHC - September 8th, 2010

Soccer is nothing new in Grand Rapids high schools, as Glance at the Past reports.    



If you believe that soccer is a relatively new phenomenon among school children in the city, you may be surprised to learn that soccer leagues were first introduced into the Grand Rapids public schools in 1912 through the influence of Charles Mills, Supervisor of Municipal recreation.

The first year there were 14 teams from seven schools, and by 1916 there were 30 grammar school teams, and 700 boys were involved in the program. There was a keen rivalry between the school teams, and the standings of the three Grand Rapids leagues were published every week in the Press. The highly competitive soccer league ran from the opening of school through October, and was active for at least ten years and possibly longer.

Every season among the boys who went out for the teams there were a few new immigrants who had played soccer abroad. They showed the American boys the real possibilities of the game.

In 1914, school superintendent William Greeson favored substituting soccer for football. He noted that ten high school football players had been killed that year during the season.  It doesn’t appear his idea was accepted.

Mr. Pell, an old soccer player and coach in England said on a visit to Grand Rapids in 1916 that he had never seen an American city that was doing more for soccer and the city’s youngsters than Grand Rapids. It was a game that children of all sizes and athletic ability could play, and it required no equipment other than a ball and a field. 


Full Details

TitleThe Soccer League
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, soccer, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringSeptember 8th, 2010

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