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A local sports organization that hosts nearly 1,000 young athletes throughout the year is looking to grow its soccer program with the help of York City School District's athletic facilities.

Mick Naper and Matt DeRose, representing Ballyhoo Sports and its partner soccer organization, FC York, on Monday offered a proposal to make a monthly donation of $500 in exchange for using the school district's soccer field at Small Athletic Field as well as part of the baseball outfield for training and games.

They also hope to use the turf field for an additional donation later in the year, they said.

"Right now we're at the old Central York High School, and we've cleaned that up and made it work for us, but we've outgrown it," Naper said. "We are constantly in the search for athletic fields where we can train."

Long-term: Ballyhoo Sports Academy at Heritage Hills Resort in York Township boasts a variety of programs, including volleyball, basketball, golf, field hockey and lacrosse.

Instead of developing its own soccer program, it partnered with the existing FC York because "having competing sports organizations doesn't really help anyone," DeRose said.

While the immediate need is for additional soccer fields, Naper and DeRose said they also hoped to enter into a long-term agreement with the district to generate soccer and other sports opportunities for the young athletes in the city.

"We want to take this relationship as far as you are willing to go with it; we're definitely thinking long-term here," DeRose said to the board, noting the district has sports-related needs the organizations could assist with. "We could be a light at the end of the tunnel."

Among those needs is the potential replacement of the turf field, which is now pushing 10 years of use, William Penn Athletic Director Joe Chiodi said, noting on average that's how long turf fields last. The cost to replace the turf field would be about $10,000, he said.

Naper and DeRose said if the district decided to enter a long-term relationship, they would seek out grants and other funds to help maintain and improve the fields.

In York: "A lot of kids can't afford these programs," Naper said.

"We'd love to start a special program in York — just start at the younger levels and work our way up. You feed us the kids you think are applicable, and we'll get them out there."

They also discussed setting up scholarship programs for York City athletes, but there are "so many talented kids in this city, we'll have to be creative about that," board member Michael Breeland said.

Breeland also emphasized that York City students should be the priority on their own fields.

"We have to make sure students have an opportunity to participate in anything that's going on on their own turf," he said.

The board is expected to consider the proposal at one of its upcoming meetings.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.

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