QUEENS — It's soccer for the stroller set.
It’s never too early to start playing the popular sport, according to a Forest Hills sports school that recently launched classes for kids as young as 18 months old.
The program, Mommy and Me, by Soccer Friends USA, a local soccer school, kicked off this fall after receiving numerous requests from parents, said Sean Peckett, 38, one of the owners and a coach at the school.
Peckett said the program helps children develop balance, coordination and basic motor skills.
“They can run and they can dribble over short distances,” said Peckett about toddlers. The classes include songs, music and dance.
“It keeps children engaged," Peckett noted. "We just want them to enjoy being physically active and we are trying to make it fun.”
Classes for the youngest kids, which they attend with one of their parents, run for about 40 minutes and are limited to 8 children, Peckett said. Ten sessions cost about $250.
The school also has classes for kids up to 12-years-old, which run for about an hour.
"Soccer is very popular in this neighborhood," said Peckett, who started the school about four years ago with his business partner, Osvaldo Delfur, 37, to provide more sport options for kids in Central Queens. The school started with a small group of children, which included his then 2-year-old son, Peckett said.
Now, it has about six different age groups, he noted.
Roughly 1,000 kids, ages 3 to 14, attend another soccer program in the neighborhood, run in September and October at the Forest Hills Youth Activities Association, according to Larry Berkowitz, the association's executive director.
Soccer Friends USA, which runs its programs year-round, also launched Soccer Afternoon Club this season. Kids in kindergarten through 5th grade come for about three hours a day, up to five days a week.
During the classes young athletes practice soccer related activities, do their homework, get snacks and play games, said Peckett. The program runs for 18 weeks and cost $28 a day.
Registration for the spring season, which starts in January, is now open, according to Peckett.