At the East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Justice is the captain of his Soccer for Success team. He plays goalie and defense, keeps the team organized on the field, helps assemble and disassemble practice equipment, and is an avid Atlanta United fan. He is also partially blind.
“I was so concerned about him playing,” his mother, Linda, says of when he first decided to play soccer. But Justice loves the game. “It makes me strong,” he says.
Justice started in the Soccer for Success program almost three years ago. Now, he can’t get enough of it. “He’s a very, very active kid. He loves to run. He loves to play,” says Brandon Riley, executive director of the East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club. “Soccer is just something that he really enjoy[s].” When Justice gets off the bus, “he’s always asking me ‘Do we have soccer today?’ even on the days we don’t have soccer.”
Soccer has provided Justice with a place where his confidence could grow and he could be a leader. And Linda has big aspirations for her son as it relates to soccer. “I pray he does [continue to play] and makes a career somewhere out of it.”
Justice’s passion for the sport only intensified when he was given the opportunity to kick around with Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu of Atlanta United, who came to meet Justice at the Boys & Girls Club, and who is now Justice’s favorite player.
“He and Justice did a little kicking around of the ball,” Linda says of the day Andrew came to visit. “Justice was excited that he kicked the ball farther than [Andrew] and had him running all over the place.”
Remembering the day they met, Andrew describes Justice as “always smiling” and “so full of life and energy that it’s this infectious energy to be around.”
Justice remembers that day well too. “I made him sweat,” he says proudly.
But the fun didn’t stop that day. Justice was invited to make the opening kick at Atlanta United’s home opener this season. As he entered the stadium, his mother describes him as a kid in a candy store. He was “looking at all these cameras…all around him. In my mind, I think he thought he was going to play with the players.”
“He feels like a celebrity,” Brandon says of that day, “which is an awesome experience.”
“I think what’s more unique is that, depending on what experiences you’ve had growing up, you might not be able to see all the lives that soccer can touch,” according to Andrew. “To see that soccer can touch the life of anybody in any environment in any circumstance is something that I appreciate.”
The leadership qualities Justice has developed are just further qualifiers for all the recognition he has received thus far. “Because of the soccer program, he’s learned not to be a follower, [but] a leader,” says Brandon.
For Justice, a key component of leadership is consistency, which means that he places special importance on attendance at practice. “I’m always there,” Justice says.
“Being in soccer has improved his strength, his confidence about himself, and his passion for the game,” Linda says proudly.
And all signs point to Justice continuing to pursue his love of the game. “Soccer is his passion,” his mother explains. “He loves the soccer program so much that he has his clothes ready the night before each soccer practice.”
Justice shows us that soccer is Everyone’s Game. Learn more about how the Foundation aims to make soccer everyone’s game at itseveryonesgame.org.