The versatility of soccer and its simplicity have made it one of the most popular sports worldwide. Phillips Community College's new math instructor will bring soccer to the Helena-West Helena campus this fall with classes for kids during the month of October. Under the direction of PCCUA instructor Carlos Merino, classes will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays for children in grades 1-3 and from 6-7 p.m. on Thursdays for children in grades 4-6. Merino is new to Phillips County and PCCUA, where he is currently teaching college algebra, trigonometry, and some math labs. He was born in El Salvador but has lived in Arkansas for a large part of his life, recently graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a Master's degree in mathematics. “I'm a lifelong fan of the sport,” said Merino, who has 15 years of experience playing soccer. He's played for school teams, club teams, and adult leagues in Arkansas and Tennessee where he mostly served as team captain. “I've helped coach some adult teams, and I've started a few smaller teams to enter into 3-on-3 tournaments, for example,” he said. “Aside from that, I try to play pickup games whenever I can.” Players can expect to enjoy being part of the team and making new friends as they learn the sport. While other sports require huge fields or courts to play on, soccer can be played virtually anywhere. Merino's goals for the October program are to teach participants the basics of soccer. “The great thing about soccer is that, at the very least, you only need a ball to play, and you can play anywhere,” he said. “I hope to teach anyone who joins to pass, dribble, and strike the ball properly. From there, the plan is to work on drills that teach the players the value of teamwork and thinking quick.” Occasionally, Merino plans to have small scrimmages so that participants can put their skills to the test. And by the end of the program, he hopes to be able to give away some soccer balls and let the players loose to enjoy the game with their friends. Soccer is open to girls and boys and is easy to learn with only a few rules. Players can wear shorts and T-shirts and will need to bring cleats, shin guards, and socks to cover the shin guards. To register, call Judy Bernard at PCCUA at (870) 338-6474, ext. 1181.