On any given Sunday, hundreds of players can be found playing in Asheville's booming adult-soccer league. Since 2002, the league has exploded, from eight to nearly 50 teams. The Asheville-Buncombe Adult Soccer Association is broken into six divisions: Men's Open, Women's Open, Men's Over 30 (first and second), Men's Over 40 (Tuesdays) and the ever-popular Coed Division (Thursdays).
ABASA runs leagues in the spring, summer and fall. The began on Feb. 28, for the Men's and Women's Open Divisions and both Men's Over-30 Divisions. The Men's Over-40 will start Tuesday, March 9, and the Coed Division will begin Thursday, March 11.
The rapid growth of the ABASA, a nonprofit organization, can be attributed to the countless volunteer hours put forth by individuals too numerous to name. However, several other factors have contributed as well. The city of Asheville and Buncombe County have created what are arguably some of the best facilities in the state for soccer to grow in this community. Both the Buncombe County Sports Park, which features several natural-grass-surfaced fields on the west side of the city, and John B. Lewis, which offers four full-sized field-turf-laden pitches on the east side, have provided more opportunities for more people to play the world's most popular game.
ABASA has also formed a strong alliance with the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association, which has been instrumental in making sure that both kids and adults have the time and space to play.
When the league began in 2002, it offered only two divisions of four teams. That quickly expanded into an Open and an Over-30 Division, which, with at least 16 teams, has since become our most popular division. Predictably, the Over-30 Division has more recently spawned the Over-40 Division.
The Women's Open Division has also become a staple of ABASA. With seven teams, the league continues to prosper. A more recent addition is the Coed Division, which has fast become extremely popular.
The result of having several divisions has made the advent of "clubs" possible. Clubs generally enter teams in several of the divisions and have sponsors. Green Man United and FC Watershed (Black Mountain) are two of our clubs and are joined by Asheville Wizards FC, sponsored by Asheville Brewing Co., and the ED Boudreaux's-sponsored Smush FC. Each club has a team in at least four divisions.
ABASA has been recognized by the state for its burgeoning soccer community, as Asheville has been the site for the North Carolina Adult State Cup for the O-30, O-40, O-50 and the Coed Divisions the last three years.
Further, our teams have represented well both state- and region-wide, with teams like the Asheville Wizards, which won the North Carolina State Cup in the Men's Open Division in 2007 and this February won the N.C. State Cup finals in the Over-30 Division at the end of the month.
The upcoming season promises to be exciting and of high quality. ABASA is always welcome to new players and, of course, spectators too. The schedule will be posted on the Web site soon, and we welcome you to come see what your local league has to offer.
For information regarding ABASA or to become a sponsor, see www.abasa.info.
If you'd like to tell us about your nonprofit, outdoorsy group, contact editor Margaret Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 251-1333, ext. 152.
[Eric Usher is the vice president of ABASA and an active member of the local soccer community.]