Participation in youth and adult soccer programs on the rise

You're never too young or too old to kick around the soccer ball.

The sport grows more popular each year in Chattanooga, a place now considered a "soccer town," according to Chris Bilbra.

He's the Sales Director for Soccer Shots, a nationwide youth program with a franchise in Chattanooga.

"Soccer is growing immensely. It's crazy," he says.

He tells NewsChannel 9 that enrollment for the winter season this year is twice more than last year's.

"We were at 250 children last season, we're already way over 500 for the winter season. It has doubled, just that much."

The start of their most popular season is still a month away.

"Our spring season is starting in March. We're probably going to be around 1,500 for spring season," Bilbra adds.

Kids aren't the only ones getting in the game.

The Chattanooga Sports League offers more than ten activities to connect young professionals. The founder, Tommy Travers, says his business has seen a rise in demand as soccer becomes more popular.

"Obviously the trend is up, up and up. We can't add enough leagues," he says.

Travers believes the Chattanooga Football Club and its fan base is part of the reason his organization has seen a boost.

"The growth of soccer in Chattanooga is definitely spilling over to us, and we're very happy about that."

More than half of CSL's athletes are in the soccer league. That's about 1,500 people, three times more than when the company started in 2012.

"We don't have enough places to put them. We're trying to catch up with the demand. The demand is there. We're trying to get to where the demand is," says Travers.

Though enrollment has doubled already, both groups think the sky is the limit.

"Chattanooga is definitely a soccer town," says Bilbra.

Click here to learn more about Soccer Shots and Chattanooga Sports League.

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