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bana2166
03-15-06, 12:49 PM
New Soccer league (Arsenal League in Florida) attracts top young adult players (Mostly Haitians)
By Julius Whigham
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

As the sun begins to set, a group of young athletes skillfully maneuvers a soccer ball across the well-worn grass outfield at the Osborne Recreation Center.

The dirt infield for softball is nearby, but on this day, soccer is the only game that matters.

Another practice is under way for the Arsenal Soccer League, a young adult league run by Boynton Beach electrician Dickens Litus.

The league will begin a tournament on March 26, with eight teams from the area competing through May 28 at Buttonwood Park. The top players will be selected to compete in an all-star game in June.

Litus, owner and president of the league for about seven years, said the league's goal is to help the players ? many of whom are in their late teens to early 20s ? develop their skills and attract the attention of college and professional scouts.

"There's a lot of opportunity," he said. "Soccer is more popular in the United States than 15 or 20 years ago. There's a lot of money right now. Even you if you don't make it here, you can go to Europe or somewhere else if you have the potential."

Litus grew up in Haiti, playing soccer as a child. A large number of players in the Arsenal Soccer League are Haitian.

"When you're growing up, that's the national game in Haiti," Litus said.

Litus, 36, said his dream was to play professional soccer. He earned a couple of tryouts with Florida professional teams, but wasn't selected. But Litus, who once played for the Hollywood Kickers, wants to share his experiences with aspiring players.

"I realized that the knowledge of the game I have would be good to pass it to the youth and help them carry it on," he said.

Merry Romeus, who coached soccer for more than 15 years in Haiti, coaches in the Arsenal League and wants to help the players understand the importance of the game.

"I want them to learn what soccer means to them," he said. "Soccer means a lot of things to me. It's my life."

Through the years, the league has attracted some of the area's top high school players, including former Palm Beach Lakes High standouts Richardson Fils and Fabrice Noel, who plays major league soccer for the Colorado Rapids.

Recent Lake Worth High School graduates Jude Petit-Frere and Jimmy Morisset, and Boynton Beach High graduate Charles Pierre Charles, are among the players playing in the Arsenal League.

"It's fun to play with these guys," Petit-Frere said. "You just come out and enjoy yourself."

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/greenacres/content/neighborhood/greenacres/epaper/2006/03/15/npg21_soccer_0315.html