If you search for soccer (football/calcio/futbal/fÃºtbol/FuÃŸball) in Blacksburg, you will probably quickly see that the high school has a great tradition of success for both girls and boys. If you look at Virginia Tech, the women’s team is excellent, the games are free, parking is good, and they are excellent to watch. The men’s soccer team isn’t quite so good at the moment.
If you want to play soccer as an adult, what are your options?
If you are a student at Virginia Tech, I guess you can play intramural sports, which for internationals who might not be familiar with the term, is recreational sports (“within the walls” I suppose). I never did when I was at VT, but that was probably more out of ignorance than anything. I have no idea what those games are like.
If you reside in the New River Valley, then the other options are a pick-up game, or playing in the New River United Adult Recreational League (NRU) – see below for more details. NRU do not, in my opinion, do a great job of advertising its existence. Their web site also leaves some things to be desired in terms of linking. Hence this post.
New River United also runs most of the kids recreational soccer in the NRV (there’s a Christiansburg setup too), and they have competitive teams for kids as well. I’ve coached and been involved with the kids recreational soccer and enjoyed it. It’s very popular and the fields around town are filled on a Saturday morning.
I have never really cottoned on to where the pick-up games tend to be, but two locations that I know of where people gather include Nellie’s Cave Park, and the field behind the Food Lion on North Main (park behind the Food Lion and walk up), which is also known as Shenandoah Field. Nellie’s Cave Park tends not to have scheduled games, so it’s often available. Note that all the goals in town should be locked when not in use, because they mostly belong to NRU and they have to lock them for insurance purposes. It’s very frustrating as a casual player, but you just have to live with it.
Adult Recreational League
I play in the Adult Rec League, and have done for many years, perhaps a decade or more now. I played in high school in England where I was pretty good, but not great. The league is usually split into Sport and Competitive. At a very broad brush, Competitive (or the A league) tends to be under-30, skillful and athletic-kids who played in high school or maybe even college. Sport (the B league in which I play) tends to be older, less skillful and less athletic (or at least two out of three of those).
If I look at the team I currently manage/captain (The Goats), we have 8 in their mid-20s, 4 in their 30s, 3 in their 40s and one 60-year old(!). That’s a bit skewed for us historically. I’d say we have more 30 and 40-year olds usually. Our players are locals, graduate students, some undergrads, and faculty. We often have some international students on our teams. Not a ton of women play, but some certainly do. The focus is on having a fun, safe game.
We typically play an 8 game regular season in both Fall and Spring with a tournament at the end. We usually play one game a week, skipping when there is a break at VT. We tend to play on the weekends and weeknights because a lot of us have jobs,
and the fields we usually use are owned and used by the local school system. NRU is building its own field near the airport which everyone hopes will be open soon. The fields we use are not great, but not terrible. There’s no budget for improvements really. The ground around here tends to be quite full of clay so the fields can get quite hard when they are dry. See the recent update posted here-we now primarily play on VT’s artificial turf!
One thing I wondered when I first signed up was why it seemed so expensive to me for so relatively few games. Part of the answer is that we play full games with three qualified referees. They generally are very good, and having them makes for good games. In terms of the rules, it is pretty standard, except that substitutions are unlimited, and we play with no slide tackling allowed. You can sign up as an individual and get assigned to a team if you are not aiming for a specific team.
Other options nearby
Roanoke has a number of good options. My understanding is that there is a women’s recreational league and a recreational league. I have heard there is a league for older players too, but I’m not sure where to find the details on that. I believe serious players involve themselves with the Roanoke Star Club, but there’s Valley AFC for kids too.
If you want to play indoor soccer (futsal) there are two basic options locally. There’s a winter league at the Blacksburg Community Center (Blacksburg Indoor Soccer League – BISL), and during the same time period there is an indoor league at the Tech Sportsplex near the mall area in Christiansburg. As an old geezer, I tend not to play because it’s a bit harder on my knees and can be quite fast, but the quality can be very good.