In 1979, my parents took me to a small field down the road from my house to sign me up for my first team sport experience at the Eastchester Youth Soccer Association. I can still remember the excitement I had as I saw all the other kids kicking around the soccer ball with each other in our oversized shorts and uniform tops that didn’t quite fit us, and my soccer cleats that I kept tripping in.
While I was never one of the top players on my team, I still got excited every Saturday morning when I would put my team uniform on to go play. I would slide on my shin guards, put on my headband and wrist bands (it was the 70s… cut me some slack!) and run to the car.
One thing I didn’t realize back then was that what I had the privilege of experiencing, wasn’t something every child gets access to in this country. I came to learn how soccer was often too costly, and there were not teams or fields available in certain neighborhoods. And that is just not acceptable.
For the last four years, I have served in various capacities with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. But, perhaps my most rewarding is as emcee of the Urban Soccer Symposium. First, no one makes fun of my headband (which I have been known to wear on occasion at the podium).
Yet, the reason I keep coming back every year is for the energy and passion. It’s rare that I get to be in a room full of hundreds of people and feel like we are all family, working together to ensure that every child has a safe, quality sports experience.
If you have never been, you need to come. Come for the networking, come for the revival, come for the connections, come for the learning, come for the friendships, or just come to get away from your kids for three days (we don’t judge – we have kids too).
Hope to see you April 28-30th at the Symposium!
Diana Cutaia is the President at Coaching Peace Consulting, LLC, which focuses on creating a positive and safe culture that empowers its members to lead with empathy and understanding. Diana has served as the emcee of the Urban Soccer Symposium for the past four years.