Marshalltown Premier League soccer back up and running in Toledo
TOLEDO — If you’ve been by the Toledo Heights Park on a bright Sunday morning in the past couple of summers, chances are you’ve seen the Marshalltown Premier League playing soccer. Nearly every Sunday, the teams of young men gather on the lush green field to battle it out over the black and white ball.
Thirteen teams compete in head-to-head matches, working themselves up to the championship at the end of the season. On these Sundays, six games are played starting at nine in the morning. Having two soccer fields to work with, two games are played simultaneously throughout the day. So, depending on which team you support or just how the game is going, you can switch from the East field to the West or vice versa.
The league got a late start this year due to certain dealings with the City of Toledo. After some unfortunate incidents in previous years, the Toledo City Council thought about terminating its contract with the league. All looked dim for the soccer players when in stepped Salud Sanchez. Salud took over the running of the league and negotiations with the city. A new set of terms were ironed out with a no-nonsense contract.
One of the new terms is a police presence in the park. Sanchez raised money with the league to pay for a Toledo Police Officer to be present in the park in case of any incident. Due to the Toledo Police Department’s staffing issues, currently, this need is not being met. Officers do a drive thru every once in a while on game days, but the department isn’t presently able to place an officer in the park. Searching for a solution, Sanchez has approached the council about using the money to hire private security.
Police in the park on game days isn’t uncommon to see, however. Chief Quigley and Officer Ryan were in attendance at the last game day for one simple reason: lunch. One of Salud’s many improvements on game day includes his own food stand, La Hielerita. As Salud stands up front taking orders and serving plates of delicious tacos, his mom stands behind him cooking away. The officers had to wait quite a while to be served as the line for La Hielerita never seemed to diminish. It appeared, at times, that more people showed up for Salud’s mother’s cooking rather than to watch the games.
The enhancements that Salud has made to the league’s game day can be seen throughout the park on Sundays. To reduce litter, Salud acquired large barrels for trash and some people to help clean up after every game day. Signs have been posted telling people about the park and the league’s no drug or alcohol rule. However, it is the grass that shows Salud’s dedication and love for the Marshalltown Premier League more than anything else. As Salud has hauled his own lawnmower down from Marshalltown to personally mow the field to make sure that it was perfect for his players. This has not gone unnoticed, as a copious amount of the people attending the games have made comments about the game day’s improvements.
Many in the Marshalltown Premier League hail from its namesake city of Marshalltown, but others come from far and wide to play. A new team this year is from the big city of Cedar Rapids. However, currently sitting in first place is the team, the Party Boyz.
Everyone is invited to come out on Sunday mornings and watch the games. The family-friendly atmosphere is punctuated by the occasional impromptu game that starts up between the children running about on the sidelines. So, If you are a soccer buff or just want something to do this Sunday, make sure to head out to Toledo Heights Park at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., or 1 p.m. and watch one of these supreme athletes headbutt the ball right into the goal.