After weather forced play to move indoors, the Spartak team made up of local middle schoolers won their division championship Friday night in the 2nd Annual Owensboro Street Soccer Bowl.
Spartak’s roster is full of players in the Sportstutor Academy, and most of them have been playing together for a decade. They ran away with a 7-1 win over Owensboro Middle School to claim the title, which was played at the Sportstutor facility.
Spartak head coach Matt Payne said though they are still young, his players have spent most of their lives playing at Sportstutor, and it all came together in the championship win.
“It’s just an experience thing,” he said. “That group has had the luxury of being in here so long. Most of those kids have played competitive level futsal since they were 7.”
The week-long tournament was originally scheduled to take place at Legion Park, but rainy conditions have forced play indoors on multiple nights. Payne said it didn’t have much effect on his team.
“You want to play outside, but we’re so used to being in here anyway,” he said. “Most of these kids have been here since they were 3 or 4 years old. They come in and start juggling balloons at 3 or 4 years old and the next thing you know, this becomes a second home to them.”
Though the group collectively has the most experience of any team on the field, Payne said he doesn’t focus too much on the expectation of winning. Instead, he wants Spartak to show maximum effort and use the skills they’ve learned.
“I expect them to work hard,” he said. “I expect them to be good teammates and to do a lot of the things they’ve been taught how to do. The street soccer, the futsal, I think it breeds a lot of creativity. We want to see them use that creativity in the game.”
As their longtime coach, Payne said he enjoys the opportunity to watch his players compete, no matter the conditions.
“That group means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of those kids since they were 3 or 4 years old. Any time we get a chance to play together, whether it’s on an outdoor tennis court or futsal, whether we play small-sided games or full-sided games, I enjoy it.”