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First Soccer Challenge scheduled for Sept. 22

The Knights of Columbus are encouraging the youth of eastern Madera County to channel their inner Lionel Messi on Sept. 22 and compete in the organization’s first Soccer Challenge.

The challenge will begin at 9 a.m. and is to be held at Yosemite High School’s football field. All boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14 are welcome to compete.

Contestants will take 15 penalty shots and will be awarded points based on how many they score and the accuracy of the strike.

Shots kicked into the top corners of the goal will be worth 20 points; shots kicked into the bottom corners will be worth 10 points; and shots scored down the middle will be worth five points.

Boys and girls will compete separately in six different age groups. First-, second- and third-place winners will be recognized, with all first-place winners moving on to a district competition.

“We know how popular soccer has become, so we’re just hoping to provide families with more opportunities to bring their kids out and just have fun,” said youth director of the local Knights of Columbus Council Tony Tucker. The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic “fraternal benefit society” with over 15,000 councils and 1.9 million members across 17 countries, according to its website.

This is the organization’s first time hosting the soccer challenge in the mountain community, but the other councils across the country have been organizing the event in their respective communities for years.

The local council in Oakhurst has sponsored the annual Free Throw Championship, another nationwide Knights of Columbus competition.

The goal of these events is to promote “fun family activities that support good sportsmanship,” said Tucker.

“We just want to give kids something to do besides look at their screens on their iPads and phones, get them exercised and get them active,” Tucker said.