ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A local soccer organization says despite the success of New Mexico United, they’re actually seeing a decline in membership.
The American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO, has two regions serving kids ages 3-18 in Albuquerque. While Region 1447 serves the westside, Region 104 serves east Albuquerque. The volunteer-led programs are for fun, giving kids an equal chance to play, regardless of skill level.
The league says fewer kids are signing up to play. In the Albuquerque area and nationally, they say AYSO numbers and those of youth sports, overall, have went down over the last five years.
“The United States has gone towards a more sedentary lifestyle with children. The pull of video games and social media are keeping kids inside and on their phones or computers or Xbox,” said AYSO 1447 Regional Commissioner Kristen Leeds.
She says cost can be another big factor in membership decline.
“Youth sports, particularly soccer, has turned into more of a ‘if you’re not on a travel team for soccer, maybe you’re not as good as the other kids are,'” said Leeds. “Many soccer organizations cost thousands of dollars for their kids to play and they’re not guaranteed to play.”
Meanwhile, a representative with New Mexico Youth Soccer, a local competitive soccer club, says their numbers have remained steady. They believe it’s because parents are keeping their kids in more because of opportunities for college scholarships in the future.
AYSO is preparing for the upcoming soccer season with sign-ups for the local leagues. Costs are $125 for the year, with scholarships available. They hope with the growing reach of NM United and the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup, more kids will be interested and sign up this season.