OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Enthusiasm was the name of the game at Big O's in Ocean Springs as 200-plus soccer fans turned out wearing red, white and blue...pulling for Team USA.
St. Patrick High School soccer coach Mario Camps was there.
He's been coaching soccer for 18 years and his teams at Mercy Cross and St. Patrick have captured
17 district titles and two 1A-2A-3A State Championship trophies, including the 2014 state title.
Camps says soccer is on an upswing in the United States.
"I think that soccer is growing more and more and more and the opportunity like the World Cup and our national team representing us well creates a lot of popularity. As you can see there's a lot of fans right here cheering for the United States,"stated Camps.
Camps has an accent. He grew up in Mexico, where he learned the game of soccer and has given a spark to local athletes, igniting a huge interest in soccer. He's also one of the top high school soccer coaches in Mississippi.
" I was born in the United States and was raised in Mexico City and grew up playing soccer,"said Camps. "When I came here soccer was not all that popular. They asked me to coach and when I started coaching and throughout the years it's becoming more and more popular and now you have select teams, recreation teams, hundreds of kids wanted to join, wanting to learn how to play soccer. So, I believe it is becoming more and more popular and throughout the years it's going to be just as popular like it is around the world."
It's going to take more time before interest in soccer reaches a level to rival that of high school, college or pro football. But as proven by the fans who displayed their colors in Ocean Springs and across the United States Monday night...it's getting there.
Another big turnout is expected at local pubs when the United States and Portugal clash Sunday evening at 5.