Ben­ton re­bounds after 1st loss

The Saline Courier Weekend - - SPORTS - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­

LIT­TLE ROCK – After suf­fer­ing their first loss of the sea­son in a dual match at Lake­side on Mon­day, the Ben­ton Jr. Lady Pan­thers ninth grade team got back on the win­ning track Wed­nes­day in Lit­tle Rock against Mount St. Mary’s.

The Jr. Lady Pan­thers swept MSM 25-19 and 25-22 to im­prove to 15-1-1 and still un­de­feated in Cen­tral Arkansas Ju­nior High Con­fer­ence play.

Ben­ton’s Madi­son

sifi­ca­tion teams, which are known as clas­sic teams.

“I started talk­ing it over with Mike. Once they aged out at the Boys & Girls

Club, kids had nowhere to go. I was ei­ther go­ing to have to put him (son) on a team in Lit­tle Rock and travel back and forth, or he was just go­ing to have to stop play­ing soc­cer.

“So we started FC, not only for the kids to ac­tu­ally get a home game, but for them to re­ally start learn­ing the fun­da­men­tals and higher level in­struc­tion of soc­cer. We’re go­ing on our third year and have quadru­pled in size.”

Also serv­ing on the Ben­ton FC board is Mich Glass, the club di­rec­tor and men’s coach, Joy­lyn Hickey, club reg­is­trar and ref­eree as­sig­nor, and head women’s Coach Dan Wil­son.

The Club wel­comes play­ers 10 years old through 19 years old, and both the boys and girls teams take turns play­ing at a beloved Ben­ton land­mark - C.W. Lewis Sta­dium in Down­town Ben­ton. C.W. Lewis was the home to the Ben­ton Pan­thers foot­ball team from 1934-2011 be­fore the Pan­thers moved to the Ben­ton Ath­letic Com­plex.

And with the Ben­ton FC play­ing at C.W. Lewis ev­ery Satur­day, Ben­ham, who has some his­tory there, wants to keep the sta­dium rel­e­vant in Ben­ton for years to come.

“Our ef­forts are to re­cap­ture and ren­o­vate C.W. Lewis Sta­dium,” he said, “which most of the peo­ple in this town care about. I called the last foot­ball game at C.W. Lewis.

“The thing about C.W. Lewis and why we’re so hon­ored to be there, but why it’s so im­por­tant for us to be there, is we play soc­cer nine months out of the year. In­stead of that sta­dium just sit­ting down there dor­mant, nine months out of the year it’s be­ing used and loved on and taken care of.”

And play­ers from all over Saline County are in­volved with Ben­ton FC.

“Our U19 boys team that’s so good has mostly Ben­ton play­ers, but we’ve got some Bryant play­ers, Har­mony Grove and Baux­ite play­ers all play­ing on that same team,” Ben­ham said. “That’s what we as­pired to when we first cre­ated. We wanted to be a place that in the fall, all of th­ese lo­cal area kids come and have a re­ally good club team. They all get their touches, they get to in­ter­act with each other, then in the spring they all go their sep­a­rate ways and got play for their high schools.”

Though Ben­ton FC teams are ac­cus­tomed to win­ning with an 18-10-4 over­all record, it’s not all about the win­ning, rather the de­vel­op­ment and fun­da­men­tals of recre­ational soc­cer.

“Let’s learn the game of soc­cer, and in the process do­ing that, let’s have fun,” Ben­ham said. “We make them work and make them fo­cus on foot­work, pass­ing, what type of a pass, so we teach them all that kind of stuff. By the time they’re a ninth-grader, if they have any skill at all, they’ve got a shot at mak­ing the high school team.”

The fall sea­son con­tin­ues to­day at C.W. Lewis Sta­dium with the U11 boys kick­ing off at 10:30 a.m., fol­lowed by the U14 Ma­roon at noon. U14 Gray hosts Searcy at 1:45 p.m., 03 Ma­roon kicks off at 5:15 and 01 Gray caps the night with a 7 p.m. kick­off. Ad­mis­sion is free.

“Ev­ery Satur­day, we have great soc­cer at C.W. Lewis Sta­dium in the spring and the fall,” Ben­ham said. “Not only are we com­pet­ing, but we’re win­ning.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Ben­ton Fut­bol Club, con­tact Mich Glass at 501-326-0665 or email at [email protected]­

GREG DAVIS/THE Saline Courier

The Ben­ton Fut­bol Club’s Gray team poses after de­feat­ing Maumelle in a match ear­lier this yeear.

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