Demonstrated annually by just about every sport-based league across the globe, embracing success remains one of the most influential components of sustained overall progression. Web search engine retrievals most commonly associate the term Jamboree as – a celebration, assembly or large festive party of mixed program content. Fitting descriptions for the Detroit PAL student-athlete gathering hosted at the Ultimate Soccer Arena, to culminate the 2014 Spring US Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program sponsored by Coca-Cola.
Maintaining three certified playing fields, the state-of-the-art Pontiac, MI based complex accommodated nearly 500 Detroit PAL kids Friday, May 16, 2014, representing 16 regional schools.
“Everyone gets equal playing time, games won or lost – we don’t record it, there are no brackets, there are no winners or losers”, said Soccer for Success Associate Athletic Director Jon Missant. Detroit PAL clubs took in the day long event comprised of multiple 30-minute recreational scrimmages. The celebration brought recognition to each and every child, awarding all program graduates with a trophy. Athletes enjoyed healthy lunch options and post-workout snacks for their bus trips back to the city.
“Over the years you see so many kids trapped in the pitfalls of life, and you say to yourself ‘what can you do?'” Coach Douglas Brigham’s experience speaks for itself, in 23 years of teaching in the Detroit school system he is no stranger to patterns of inner-city adolescent development. “As kids, they’re sponges, in a sense, we are making up their DNA and who they are as people.”
Through soccer, the Soccer for Success program assumes leadership efforts in urban communities to curb childhood obesity, promote health issues and healthy lifestyles. Charitable footing provided by the Social Innovation Fund and The Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention has enable the designation of Detroit PAL as one of 21 sites nationwide, dedicated to the United States Soccer Foundation regimen.
Under US Soccer Foundation protocol, individual schools practice and play solely with their teammates for the duration of the 12-week, non-competitive program. Developing higher levels of personal comfort during athletic training among peers, fosters increased motivation, engagement and overall enjoyment.
Based on a Progression Model, initial steps for youth include basic ball-oriented tasks, ensuring a substantial foundation of mechanics, and over time, grounds for development of an advanced technique-specific skill set. A 4-Stage outline offers coaching guidelines rooted in family engagement, mentorship, physical activity, but most importantly, nutrition.
Douglas admits to losing more than fifteen pounds himself in following the US Soccer Foundation nutritional guidelines. Fifth graders in hallways at Palmer Park Prep stop to tell coach Brigham just how close they are to reaching their ideal amounts of daily water in-take. “seventy ounces so far today coach” said one student. “Seeing it stick in the kids’ heads, to me that is more gratifying than anything”.
Last season’s regimen concluded nearly 89% of participants who were categorized as overweight actually lowered their Body Mass Index (a biological measure of relative weight based on an individual’s height and mass), it is measured at the beginning and again at the conclusion of the program.
Not standings, nor scoreboards, but it is these biological goals scored that give merit to our celebration. Cesar Chavez Academy first-graders Mark England and his best friend Jose practice together 3 days a week. “its fun to score some goals” said Mark, leaning back to raise his arms and flex his muscles. “But eating good food always makes me feel strong out there”.
Learn more about Soccer for Soccer, our coaches and children, by watching this three minute video: