Some kids grow up playing tee-ball in the back yard, while others join the elementary football team. There are others still, in Owensboro, who think outside the box by playing soccer on a tennis court.
It’s not the Olympics, or the World Cup. There are no rabid fans chanting from the stands, or million-dollar pros playing on this pitch. But it’s their game and their memories that matter.
It’s their own version of futbol. However, there is something more they want.
“It all started back in middle school when me, my brother, and a couple friends came out here and kicked the ball around,” says Christakis Agisilaou, who you might call a founding member of the Owensboro street soccer scene.
Agisilaou and his brother, Nikos, were born in the Bluegrass, with blood from Greece and they’ve been playing soccer on a tennis court for more than a decade.
They believe what they’re doing at the Owensboro Middle School courts, is the dawn of something big. It’s their home turf – or pavement.
“We would play on fields, but they never cut the grass, so we always played on the courts,” Christakis says.
Nikos remembers when they started small, sometimes with just four guys. But now there is regularly dozens who join in, and hundreds on the Facebook page. “We needed somewhere,” he says, “This wasn’t the best to start with but it’s what we had.”
The game is faster, smaller, and better for practice. Which is part of the reason why Christakis has signed a deal to play professionally in Sweden.
“I started on these courts, and to come back and play is great.”
But the countless hours spent at the classic courts will soon be memories. Owensboro Middle has plans to demolish the tennis courts, and with it the home base for street soccer.
But a league built from scratch isn’t going down that easily. With a grassroots effort from the guys, they say the city is on board to build them a new court with their eyes on York or Legion Park.
“We’ll have a new place, so we’ll make more memories,” Nikos says.
This may not be soccer’s biggest stage.
But don’t tell them.