With Lionel Messi debuting in the Inter Miami CF, a Fort Lauderdale-based American professional soccer team, the buzz around soccer is at an all-time high. But did you know that Oakland Park is also home to Florida’s largest indoor soccer facility?
Americas Got Soccer (AGS) is a fully air-conditioned indoor soccer facility with 3 turf soccer field sizes of 6v6 and 5v5, equipped with washrooms, changerooms, onsite food options, and a sports bar. Founded in 2014, AGS currently has a staff of about 30 employees and offers youth soccer programs and camps, along with facilities such as field rentals and a venue to host birthday parties.
Soccer Programs for Kids of All Ages
AGS offers youth soccer programs for kids as young as 18 months old to 15 years old. With over 700 kids per week, “the enrollment number has been consistently growing and gets especially busy in the summer”, shares Annie Knott, a staff member who joined AGS in November 2022.
Kids can be enrolled in either soccer programs or camps. Soccer programs are available throughout the year, offering the flexibility to participate in classes either once a week or more frequently, for a monthly fee. AGS also offers all-day camps that run from one to four weeks, including an option for a one-day camp in the summers.
Knott shares that the programs follow a curriculum designed by a professional coach, trained in soccer education. Classes are taught by professional, skilled coaches. Each class is 60 minutes long with 30 minutes dedicated to training and the other 30 minutes for gameplay.
Head Coach Luis Cardenas has been with AGS since April 2022 and coaches kids of all age groups. He works with a staff of 15 other coaches at the facility and shares that each class is taught by a pair of coaches – a lead coach and an assistant coach. For the younger age groups, the class size accommodates 12 children, while for the older groups, it expands to 15 children.
Surging Popularity of Toddler Programs
Luis shares that the programs have kids with varying levels of skills including kids who have never kicked a soccer ball. While there are programs for all age groups, the classes for 3 to 4-year-olds are among the most popular at AGS.
Explaining the toddlers’ program, Luis shares that the coaches instruct the kids with their parents. The initial focus of the program is to get the toddlers physically active. This includes learning to kick the ball, pass it, and basic skills like running or jumping. Kids who are 2 or 3 years old start learning more advanced skills like passing the ball to another player and scoring a goal.
Luis shares that while the programs promote physical fitness among kids, there are additional advantages to enrolling in soccer programs at a young age. It provides toddlers an opportunity to socially interact with people outside their families before entering preschool. It also provides a space for parents to meet with other parents and share a common experience.
When asked about his standout coaching moments, Luis remembers working with a 16-month-old child. “He was so tiny that his shorts went all the way to his feet, like a dress,” Luis chuckles as he remembers the child. It has been heartwarming for Luis to witness the kid grow who is now 2 years old. “He is (now) kicking the ball, he understands my instructions, he can actually talk to me now. Before he couldn’t say a word,” he adds.
The Messi Effect
With a fan following of millions around the world, it comes as no surprise that the Messi Effect can be seen among the kids at the facility. Luis shares that every day he sees at least a few kids wearing the Miami, Messi jersey. Both Luis and Knott share that kids are excited to see Messi play in their local team and it has amplified their enthusiasm towards the sport.
Adults are equally thrilled to watch Messi play. The in-house bar has started to get busier than usual, especially on game nights. Recently, on the night of Messi’s second game with Inter Miami, Luis had just finished coaching and was wrapping up for the day, when Messi scored his first goal of the game. He saw everyone in the facility hurry to the bar to watch the game in excitement. “I think it’s the biggest number of people I have ever seen in the bar,” says Luis.
“We ended up watching the whole first half in the bar with a whole group of people I have never met,” adds Luis, as he expresses the excitement of watching Messi play, along with local fans like himself.
Field Rentals, In-house Bar, and More
If you are looking for a field to host your own soccer game, ASG offers field rental options starting from $110 per hour. Knott shares that field rentals are also popular among the locals for hosting other games such as dodgeball. The venue also hosts birthday parties in its party room. Party packages also offer access to the open bar and soccer field.
What makes AGS more inviting is its in-house cafe, Tio Sam’s, which offers healthy food options. The in-house bar, Pumas Sports Bar, is open until 2 AM, and serves as a great spot for watch parties on game nights with a large TV screen.