Growing up in Canada we celebrated “Canadian Thanksgiving.” Four years ago, I relocated to the United States and four U.S. Thanksgivings later, I’ve learned that no matter where (or when) you celebrate Thanksgiving, it usually involves two essential things: 1) turkey and 2) family.
This past holiday, players from the McDade Classical School soccer team in Chicago, IL decided to make their Thanksgiving Day pick-up game a family affair. The McDade Classical School soccer program is one of the many sites run by the Illinois Youth Soccer Association (IYSA), a local partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. A free soccer-based after school program, Soccer for Success provides children in under-resourced urban areas across the country opportunities to engage in physical activity while learning the value of teamwork, leadership, and the importance of nutrition.
Organized by the McDade Classical School team coach, Joseph Smith, the game gave students the opportunity to take the valuable lessons learned at Soccer for Success to a game situation. 18 players, joined by their families, gathered for an early morning game of soccer. Typically, the team practices by turning their small school cafeteria into a makeshift soccer pitch. On this day, they had the opportunity to play at a local indoor field. Support came from all directions as the school’s Principal Perry, an avid supporter of the Soccer for Success program, donated water and refreshments for the game.
“Everything went very, very well. They’re really focusing on healthy eating and the game of soccer, and being teammates,” said Coach Smith of the Thanksgiving game. “The bottom line of the success is that it is very family oriented – big time family support.”
With 21 sites across the state, the Illinois Youth Soccer Association impacts over 700 youth participants, and families are always encouraged to take advantage of afterschool and weekend games. At the end of the season, IYSA’s Soccer for Success program hosts their annual Copa Chicago tournament. Events like these provide programs the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of each participant. It brings together families to enjoy the game of soccer and their children’s participation in the program.
We know that positive change starts at home and one of the core components of the Soccer for Success program is engaging the whole family. We want to turn parents/guardians and family members into advocates who help reinforce the program’s teachings by applying them in their homes. Families are provided with information on nutrition, health, and public service that will aide them in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.
Soccer for Success programs across the nation provide kids with the opportunity to participate in activities that are fun for the whole family. Join our team and learn how you can give more kids in more places the chance to play.