The Richmond Observer – New soccer practice field nearing completion at Richmond Senior

ROCKINGHAM – A project several years in the making to benefit the long-term success of the Richmond Senior High School soccer program is officially underway.

Ground recently broke on the construction of a new 40×50-yard practice field, which will be used by the school’s boys ‘and girls’ soccer teams.

The new multi-use field is located behind the bleachers at the soccer field on Richmond’s campus and will be just under half the size of the teams’ full-sized field. The current playing field is 118 yards long.

“This is the big kickoff to expand our amenities, our practice area and growing our program for the future,” head coach Chris Larsen said. “Our biggest need currently is more space to be able to practice junior varsity and varsity at the same time.

“Having to share the main field sometimes limits what we can accomplish with both teams, so this new addition is going to help us better prepare throughout the season,” he added. “A new half-field will be great for small-sided games and other drills that don’t always require the use of the big field.”

Another aspect that the practice field will help with is “maintaining the wear and tear on the main field” and keeping playing conditions better for the Raiders and Lady Raiders during their respective seasons.

What started as an idea six years ago between Larsen and former head coach Bennie Howard has developed into a reality thanks to help from the local community and the school district.

Larsen said the project’s final cost “is right around $ 20K,” which was mostly paid for out of the soccer program’s own fund. That included money raised through the team’s sponsor board and annual fundraisers like soccer camp, as well as money given from private donations.

Richmond County Schools, which approved the project in February, “helped cover the remaining costs” Larsen explained.

Over the last several years, Larsen said money in the soccer program’s account has been saved after purchasing the necessities for each season (uniforms, socks, soccer balls and equipment) to go toward paying for the new practice area.

Though the process has taken a little longer than he wanted, Larsen expects the new practice field to be ready to use over the summer ahead of the boys’ season in the fall.

Head coach Chris Larsen checks out the irrigation lines that were installed on the new practice field on Tuesday. (Kyle Pillar / The Richmond Observer)

Clearing began on April 14, and since then the field has been leveled. On Tuesday, Hodges Lawn & Landscape, Inc. installed the irrigation system. Larsen said three to four inches of topsoil will be added this week to smooth out the field.

While the immediate impact will give the Richmond soccer programs more room to practice, Larsen intends for the long-term impact on the community’s youth and the growth of the sport to be much greater.

“As coaches, we stress the need for consistent play throughout the year,” Larsen said. “This new addition will give us an area where current or future players can come to workout and get better at playing soccer.

“It’s also a designated area that could lead to a travel team that would benefit from offseason training and expand the interest and participation of the game in Richmond County.”

Larsen called the first major overhaul of the soccer complex since it was built for the start of the fall 2014 season “phase one,” which he hopes to see further expand in the coming years.

With its intended success, Larsen would like to expand the practice area another 10-15 yards and improve the players’ bench area. That would consist of covered benches on concrete pads to shelter players from the heat in the fall and wind in the spring.

Lighting on the new field is also a possibility Larsen is considering for the future.

The community encouraged to help finish the field

The final step of helping complete the new practice area is to lay the sod, which will be done on Saturday.

Starting at 8 am, members of the boys ‘and girls’ soccer program, along with coaches, parents and community members, will distribute 35 pallets of bermuda grass.

“I really want this to be a fun experience for everyone and I hope more people will join us to help grow our program,” Larsen closed. “We will have lunch and drinks provided, and I’m looking forward to finishing off the last big part of this project.”

Richmond County Chamber of Commerce

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