Detroit PAL hosts Soccer Opening Day; Assignor talks about time with PAL
The fields of the Historical Fort Wayne on the Detroit River were the site of Detroit PAL’s Opening Day for Soccer on Saturday, April 26. Nearly 1000 children registered to play in PAL’s opening day games sponsored by Metro PCS. Also on hand were 50 coaches and volunteers.
PAL’s four-year-old and under division, “Little Kickers,” which focuses on learning the fundamentals of soccer, got the day going at 10 a.m. Following that were the competitive age divisions, which range from six to 14-years-old, to round out the day.
Among the many attendees was Detroit PAL’s Assignor, Julian Theriot. The 21-year-old PAL alumnus is responsible for finding officials and assigning them to games, making sure they are where they need to be and that they are on time and have filled out their paperwork, as well as handling complaints from coaches and parents.
“Anything dealing with the refs goes through me,” he said.
The son of a soccer coach, Theriot has been playing the game since he was a part of the Little Kickers program. He played for his father from when he was 12-years-old until he turned 15. Theriot aged out of the program, and his dad stuck around to coach younger kids, so it was time to play under a different coach. Playing under someone else’s tutelage made him appreciate the game and his accomplishments even more.
“It gave me the motivation to work harder,” Theriot said about playing for someone other than his father. “It went from being, ‘Oh, so you’re the coach’s son. So you must be captain.’ to actually working to be the captain. And I appreciated that more.”
He continued to play soccer in college at Wayne State University as an intramural athlete. While playing, Theriot decided to become a referee for PAL’s soccer league. After doing that for a few years, he received his certification and “kept moving up in the ranks.” Eventually, he said, PAL approached him and asked if he wanted to be the assignor.
“It’s been a unique experience,” he said regarding his time with Detroit PAL.
In that time, Theriot has seen the game of soccer grow in Detroit, and a big reason for that is the effort of Detroit PAL. “It makes me so excited” to see so many more young people play the game, he said. Because of Detroit PAL’s impact, he said he’s been able to find more people on his side of the city to play pickup games with. And as the game has grown it has also become more diverse.
“I remember when I was younger it was pretty much a lot of Hispanic teams. Now it’s Hispanic, black and white teams.” Theriot said. “It makes the game more fun and it gets people used to how it’s going to be in the real world, and I think that’s good for the kids.”
Theriot said he is always training, but he still enjoys the 20-hours-a-week that he puts into his assignor position. His ultimate goal is to play soccer professionally. But if it doesn’t happen to make it as a professional soccer player, he said his “backup plan is [mechanical] engineering.”