BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bringing a community together with soccer. The South Baltimore Youth Soccer League is celebrating its 11th season.

The organization is working to develop good sportsmanship and healthy skills for our city’s youth, WJZ’s Tracey Leong reports.

Since starting in 2005, the league has grown tremendously, giving children of all levels the opportunity to play soccer.

Kicking off its 2016 season, the South Baltimore Youth Soccer League now has nearly 500 players–a big jump from the 2005 roster, with only 70 kids.

Baltimore Blast players showed their support at opening day for the next generation of athletes.

“Soccer is great for young kids because they learn how to play with their teammates, how to be a little competitive and sportsmanship,” said William Vanzela, Baltimore Blast player.

The coaches focus not only on developing young athletes’ soccer abilities, but also hoping to instill healthy habits.

“They eat healthy when they’re here, and they exercise here and don’t know they’re exercising. They’re having fun,” said Darlene Padgett, league V.P.

Proud parents are also committed to the league and the effort to promote good sportsmanship.

“Pretty nice to be able to have my kids be able to interact with all the kids in the neighborhood that we live locally to, because it is such a community of neighborhoods,” said Nate Smith, parent and assistant coach.

Soccer players range in age from 3 to 17.

The league’s soccer season wraps up in the middle of November.

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