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Watch now: Decatur’s Goalkeeper Wars keep soccer skills in check | Soccer

Watch now: Decatur’s Goalkeeper Wars keep soccer skills in check | Soccer

Goalie Wars

Julia Howley attempts to block a kick from Jackson Waggoner during the 2022 Goalkeeper Wars on Saturday in Decatur.

Donnette Beckett

DECATUR — Soccer goalie Julia Howley spent Saturday morning diving, kicking and blocking soccer balls.

According to the 9-year-old athlete, kicking is the best technique for making a goal, versus throwing the ball from the goal line.

“It can go faster and make a better goal,” she said about kicking. “Since the wind’s going so fast, the ball will just fall out of your hand.”

Julia and other soccer players competed in the Midstate Soccer Club’s Goalkeeper Wars, held Saturday morning in the Midstate Soccer Complex near Stephen Decatur Middle School, for local soccer players, both goalies and other positions.

Goalie Wars

Amelia Coleman, 8, attempts a goal during the Midstate Soccer Club Goalkeeper Wars on Saturday.

Donnette Beckett

The event is an annual tournament in which two players compete against each other in three-minute rounds. The athletes can attempt regular shots, throw the ball with their hands or punt the ball to score. At the end of the round, the goalie with the most points wins.

“It’s a good warmup for games,” Julia said. “And we just have fun.”

This year is the third Goalkeeper Wars Colin Bonner has organized. Soccer players from various positions are allowed to compete.

“The kids just want to shoot a goal,” Bonner said. “You get a lot of shooting practice here. But they also get to dive around and be a goalie as well.”

The soccer players range in age from 7 years old to adults and are separated into seven divisions, which includes boys, girls and co-ed. Approximately 35 athletes traveled from Springfield, Arcola, Bement and other areas of Central Illinois to compete. According to Bonner, the goal positions were separated into three lengths, at 12 yards, 18 yards and 24 yards.

“We go after the National Goalie Wars standard,” he said about the categories. “But this is just the local tournament that we host.”

Goalie Wars

Jackson Waggoner, 7, blocks a kick from his opponent during the Goalkeeper Wars on Saturday in Decatur.

Donnette Beckett

Ben Coleman cheered on his 8-year-old daughter Amelia as she competed during several rounds Saturday morning. “We have a lot of fun with this,” he said. “And they have a good time.”

Coleman encouraged his daughter to attend the tournament to keep up her soccer skills between seasons, which starts in August. “It’s kind of a fun, different way to play soccer than they normally do,” he said.

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Amelia’s position during a typical soccer game is defense or midfield. The goalie requires different techniques and moves, according to her dad. “You have to be willing to put your body on the line,” Coleman said.

Julia’s parents have been attending similar events with the Midstate Soccer Club since her 12-year-old sister Mya was a toddler. “We’ve been part of the program for nine years,” said dad Jim Howley.

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According to the parents and players, the goalie’s skills are used by other players throughout the game.

“You win by goals,” said mom Maggie Howley. “You want your goalies to practice blocking, but you need the strikers to practice kicking the ball, too.”

“And you have to not be scared of the ball,” Julia said.

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR