The Sioux Falls school district is considering sanctioning soccer as a high school sport. Activities Director Mark Meile confirmed to KELOLAND Sports that a proposal has been submitted for budget consideration. A decision must be made prior to the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors meeting April 22nd. Sanctioning soccer would also fulfill the goal of the South Dakota State Soccer Association.
"The one goal we had was to get all these kids sanctioned and playing within their high schools to make it a real high school sport for both of them. So, now we're on the eve of actually seeing that whole thing happen, and everything come together. So, it's exciting," South Dakota State Soccer Association President Rich Jensen said.
High school soccer has been a club sport in South Dakota since 1997. In 2012, a number of schools made the move to sanctioned soccer, including Sioux Falls O'Gorman, Aberdeen, Mitchell, and more. If Sioux Falls' public schools were to join, others would likely follow.
"A lot of people have been talking about it. I think there were a lot of them that were leaning to starting in 2015. That would be the year they'd want to start, but the one thing that was holding everyone back was what's Sioux Falls going to do, and with Sioux Falls now looking at probably making a move like this, I think it's going to be a big impetus for a lot of these other programs to finally decide, ok now it's time," Jensen said.
In 2012, as teams began making the move to sanctioned soccer, the Soccer Association informed its members that funding would end after the 2014 high school season. Jensen says now is Sioux Falls' time to sanction soccer.
"It is time. It's time to do it. Soccer involves a lot of kids. On a per kid, or per player basis, it's very low cost. It offers a lot of opportunities for a lot of kids to play, and it's not going to cost the school a lot of money to do it," Jensen said.
Jensen says some smaller schools will likely get left behind, citing Chamberlain as a club that's done a tremendous job, but once funding ends, the program may end. Again, Sioux Falls must make its decision prior to April 22nd.