The Pueblo West View

S.A.F.E feeling with Pueblo Rangers soccer

One of the acronyms used to describe the Pueblo Rangers Soccer Club is S.A.F.E.; safety, activity, fun and education. It’s safe to say the program covers all four facets of the acronym. And then some.

When the Pueblo Rangers started their program in 1982, the talent pool for soccer in Pueblo was dry. At the time of their inception, the Pueblo Rangers Soccer Club built a program dedicated to educating the youth in the city and bring more love to the game of soccer.

The effort has been commendable. More than 1,650 kids and 165 teams were a part of the Pueblo Rangers spring program and those numbers are expected to grow over the next year.

The meticulous research to maintain campers and find the best way to educate players came from the Colorado State University-Pueblo. However, it wasn’t found on a diploma or a homework assignment, it came from the men and women players at the college.

“We’ve always tried to have a partnership with CSU-Pueblo,” said Director for Recreational, Middle School, 5v5 and 3v3 Leagues Stuart Szemaraj. “CSU players can be role models. I think that does have a positive effect with these kids because they can look up to someone who has been there, and we can provide some local idols.”

There are several other coaches on the staff who have a minimum of an E license – the basic principles of coaching soccer – to coach the players and further educate the staff but because of the connection the college students have with the youth in the program, their assistance is priceless.

The coaches and the work of the youth in the Rangers program took the program leaps and bounds ahead of where it came from 32 years ago. More kids in Pueblo play soccer and have various fields to polish what they’ve learned thanks to the various donations the Pueblo Rangers Soccer club has received.

“This club now has the resources and the foundation level to compete,” Szemaraj said. “We’re progressing from being an average state club, to being one of the premier clubs.”

It is definitely big time. Campers from various parts of the world have traveled to Pueblo to take part in the Pueblo Rangers camp.

“We offer a British soccer camp in the summer, we have people fly in from England, we’ve had Brazilian camps,” Szemaraj said. “We recently partnered with the Glasgow Rangers for a scout club. We recently had two guys come in from Scotland to do some training.”

Those who attend the camp striving to hone their skills and possibly make a run at the pros are in good hands.

There was once pro talent featured in the club.

Current Real Salt Lake defender and former East Eagle Nat Borchers passed through the program in his youth and developed into a pro athlete. Of course, not all the credit can go to the program but surely it played a role in growth of Borchers.

From having virtually no talent in the city to churning out pro talent, the Pueblo Rangers built a solid foundation for soccer in Pueblo West and established a program for kids, teens and coaches to excel.

“From 32 years ago until now we’re continually growing in numbers. This keeps kids off the streets and away from gangs,” Szemaraj said. “We’ve seen an evolution in how we approach coaching. We provide coaching clinics for recreational coaches to take advantage and use as a resource.”

If you are interested in joining the camp, call Stuart Szemaraj at 719-406-0660.

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