When the Atlanta United opened its season and the franchise last Sunday against the New York Red Bulls, it was something that was a long time coming for Newton County soccer fans.
Particularly for Kharmin Beam and her sons, it was a sight for sore eyes.
“I’m thrilled about it,” Beam said. “As a parent with boys who have been playing soccer since they were four, up until now we’ve never really been able to take them anywhere to see soccer on its highest level.”
Beam said her family had taken in perhaps one or two professional soccer games before the United came to town, but that was about it. Now they are one of several Covington families who are season ticket holders.
The United lost its first game to New York, 2-1, but that fact alone was not enough to overshadow the further reaching implications of having a Major League Soccer team right in the city’s back yard.
Beam’s two sons play soccer and attend Cousins Middle School in Covington. And 15 year old Jordan says the United’s arrival is something that will give something for other young soccer players to aspire to.
“This is going to bring a completely different culture to Atlanta,” Jordan Beam said. “It’s going to give kids from Georgia loads and loads of exposure.”
For Newton High senior and first-year soccer player Lauren Williams, the arrival of a Major League Soccer team is priceless as she desires to continuously find ways to expose herself to the highest levels of the game.
“It’s definitely a big deal for me,” said Williams, a goalie for the Lady Rams. “It’s really going to be something that I think will really allow people to see how great of a game soccer is, and get more people interested in wanting to get involved or wanting to see what it looks like to play at the highest level.”
That’s exactly what Kharmin Beam is hoping will happen for her sons who are already playing youth soccer at some of the highest levels in the state. She says that just like with football, basketball or baseball, soccer enthusiasts and aspirers alike will finally be able to see what they can become without going too far away from home.
“This will definitely amplify the interest in soccer around,” she said. “It hasn’t always had the best rep. It gets lost in baseball and football, and people think that’s all there is. But hopefully, with the level of play and the fan support this is getting, people will start seeing that this isn’t a little wimp sport. It takes talent to do it. And if kids ever wanted a future in it, they won’t have to go to Europe to find it.”
Atlanta United Info:
Next Home Game: Saturday March 18, 4 p.m. vs. Chicago Fire.
First Home Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Sunday July 30, 4:30 p.m. vs. Orlando City
Tickets and Schedule Info: Visit www.atlutd.com