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Just for kicks: New league signifies soccer growth in Russellville

The game of soccer is continuing to expand in the city of Russellville. In the past, there have been very few opportunities to get involved with the game here in Franklin County, and many of those serious about playing the game had to travel to surrounding areas like Muscle Shoals and Florence.

In the last year, Russellville High School has added boys and girls soccer to get students involved, but now there is a new soccer league in Russellville, which is open to boys and girls and men and women of all ages.

Luis Duron and his wife Nelly Martinez, a native of Russellville, have started the Alabama International Soccer League, or Alabama ISL, in Russellville. Their goal is to provide soccer lessons, training and competitive leagues for all ages in an area that has always had the demand but never an organization to fulfill it.

“Soccer is really big here, and a lot of people love the sport,” Duron said. “This a good location to start a club, which has never really had one before.”

“I’ve always wanted to do a club here in Russellville, and now we’ve got the chance to do it.”

Currently, Alabama ISL is offering soccer lessons to youth ages 2-19 and holding classes on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 or 2 p.m. Those lessons are $20 per person on the first visit and $5 per person for every lesson after that, Duron said.

“I know a lot of parents want their kids to learn to play soccer, but there’s nowhere around here that gives lessons, and they’re too busy to get out and teach them,” Duron said. “That’s why we’re offering soccer school, so these kids can learn the game.”

Duron, a former high school and semi-pro player, said lessons are also available for adults who want to learn. Soon, Alabama ISL intends to start offering competitive club soccer and youth and adult leagues. These leagues will be for all ages, Duron said, and he believes it will be a big hit among Russellvillians.

“A lot of people around here who are serious about playing have to drive to Muscle Shoals or Florence or Decatur to play,” Duron said. “We want to give them a place to go so they can play here.”

Alabama ISL plans to start organizing 7 v. 7 teams and traditional 11 v. 11 teams for the youth first and then eventually get adult leagues started. Right now, Duron said, they are just trying to get the word out about Alabama ISL.

“We’re just getting started, and the start is always slow,” he said, “but once the word gets out I think a lot of people will be interested and things will start to pick up.”

Starting a league and club like Alabama ISL in a town that has never had one before would be a daunting task for some, but this is not Duron’s first time embarking on a venture like this. In fact, Duron has about two decades worth of experience.

“For 19 or 20 years I’ve been doing this,” he said. “I started a small league in Georgia, and it eventually grew into six locations. It was big success, and we had a lot of people who played."

Starting around Fayetteville, Georgia, Duron’s league expanded to areas south of Atlanta and into Gwinnett County. In the long run, Duron wants Alabama ISL to blossom with a similar success.

“What we did in Georgia is what we want to do here,” he said. “Like I said, things will be slow at first because they always are, but I think Russellville is a perfect place to start, and we hope to expand from here.”

Duron’s long-term plan is to have multiple leagues for all ages playing year-round.

“Some people think that soccer is seasonal,” he said. “I want to get that out of people’s heads. Soccer is played all year long.”

Alabama ISL would also like to add an indoor facility and multiple outdoor fields in the years to come, Duron said.

Starting the club, Duron said his true desire is to get people playing soccer, learning the game and having fun.

“I love the sport. I’ve played it all my life, and my wife plays it, too,” he said. “I know there are a lot of people that love the game, and I want to be able to give them a place where they can play and share that love of the game together.”

For more information about the Alabama ISL, call Luis Duron at 256-980-5735 or contact Alabama ISL by email at 79aisl@gmail.com. The club can also be found on Facebook by searching “Alabama ISL.”

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