Organization: JT Dorsey Foundation
Before Gio joined Soccer for Success, run in partnership with the JT Dorsey Foundation, he had never played soccer. Gio’s dad played basketball for most of his life, so that was the most familiar sport to Gio. Now, Gio is seen as a soccer ambassador at his school. Through his charisma and enthusiasm, Gio’s participation in Soccer for Success has inspired many of his classmates to follow suit. “Kids who used to walk by the field, peer through the fence, then keep walking, now spend their time on the field,” says Pat Hardy, Board Member at Kensington Soccer Collaborative – the site where Gio participates in Soccer for Success.
Gio and his family live in a row house community. Some of the houses next door have been knocked down and seeded, creating a makeshift yard – or, as Gio sees it, a personal practice field. Gio and other kids from his neighborhood often practice their soccer skills together there.
One of Gio’s favorite things about his Soccer for Success team is his coaches, many of whom grew up outside of the United States. He enjoys learning about their home countries and cultures, and he even reaches out to his coaches for help on assignments about different cultures across the world.
Gio is lucky enough to have his father as one of his coaches, who he says motivates him to be a team leader. “Even though l like scoring goals, I’m starting to learn to get my teammates involved more and helping them with the skills I learned,” says Gio. “I have fun playing against the other teams and going to practice. I even sleep with my Kensington Soccer shirt before our games.”
“Not only am I proud of Gio as a player since I am his coach,” says Gio’s father, Shawn, “but more because he is my son. He does well at school and at home. ‘Books before ball’ is our family motto.”
When Gio grows up, he wants to be a professional soccer player. One of his favorite memories is when the program took a field trip with the participants and their families to a Philadelphia Union MLS game. “Participating in soccer has made him strive for a better future,” says Shawn. We are proud to have Gio in Soccer for Success, and proud to call Gio this month’s All-Star!