World Cup increasing soccer's popularity in SWLA

By Jason Belk - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Soccer's World Cup only happens once every four years, but when the world's most popular sport takes center stage, what kind of impact is felt here in Lake Charles?

Shannon McCall, the store manager of Third Coast Soccer, has seen a big increase in foot traffic at his store and interest in the sport, since the World Cup started.

"It gets a little lonely in here, nobody really comes in during the off-season and stuff like that, but having the people in, chatting and watching the games, and just the overall interest that people are taking. It's nice to see," said McCall.

But McCall and many others believe this World Cup presents a chance for the worlds' most popular sport to take a step in that direction on the local sports scene.

"It's certainly getting more popularity. The young kids like to look up to sports figures they start seeing, especially the men's national team and the women's national team, who has enjoyed a lot of success, and they want to emulate what they see," said McCall.

When thinking about Louisiana sports, football and baseball almost immediately come to mind, but with the success of local team likes St. Louis High School, the talent level in Lake Charles is certainly on the rise.

"This week we had a soccer camp where it was a hundred degrees outside Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and we're still able to get sixty kids kicking the ball around. I think our success has encouraged kids to want to be involved and want to come to those types of camps," said Jason Oertling, the Athletic Director at St. Louis.

While the World Cup will inevitably come to and end, the rise in popularity and success in the area may just be getting started.

"The Calcasieu Soccer Club has definitely done an incredible job with their leadership, a lot of the coaches are getting involved.  I think the skill level and the appreciation of it is definitely increasing and I only see it getting better," said Oertling.

Soccer isn't only being played at a high level in South Africa, but also in our backyards here in Lake Charles.

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