Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the US Soccer’s Soccer for Success National Training in Washington D.C. Six of the YMCA’s amazing coaches were selected to attend this training as they demonstrated hard work and dedication throughout the 2016-2017 Soccer for Success® season. The 4-day training event is hosted annually by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, who partners with the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, along with Campbell’s Soup Foundation and The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
Together we strive to implement Soccer for Success in the under served communities of Camden to ensure children are given the opportunity to engage in safe and fun activities.
The National Training event brought together more than 100 community leaders from all across the country in the effort to become Soccer for Success trainers in their local neighborhoods and empowered the coach-mentors with the tools to be positive role models in their communities. During our experiences there, the coach-mentors and myself participated in hands-on sessions and workshops that focused on physical activity, nutrition education and curriculum implementation. Upon completion of the training, our team graduated to become certified US Soccer Foundation Soccer for Success trainers that are now equipped to lead other coach-mentors in our local community.
My favorite aspect of Soccer for Success, that truly makes it superior to other youth sports programs I have experienced, is that the coaches are not only coaches but mentors as well. They are compassionate and caring and love what they do for their communities. They introduce kids to the fundamentals of soccer, but also guide the children in setting and achieving personal goals. They encourage teamwork that demonstrates the Y core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. With new requirements from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquent Prevention, a supporter of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and an additional funder, the mentorship component of the Soccer for Success program will become a top priority because of the many important and positive impacts that it can have on a child’s life. Our player to coach-mentor ratio will be moving from 15:1 to 7:1, allowing the players to have the opportunity to develop more on-going and effective relationships with their coach-mentors.
I am grateful for the experience I had with my staff at the 2017 Soccer for Success National Training. Our coach-mentors, now trainers, were all well-deserving of this unforgettable opportunity. I have learned so many important things during our training and I will forever carry it with me. To have the chance to watch them showcase their strengths, challenge themselves and step outside their comfort zones for the greater good of this program was truly inspiring. I cannot wait to see what they will bring back to our Strategic Advancement team!