Before joining Detroit PAL’s Soccer for Success program in 2013, Mark England would watch other neighborhood kids play soccer in the yard down the street. His father, Josh England said Mark was simply too timid to even try playing, not uncommon for youngsters with no knowledge of a sport. He saw how much fun the other kids were having, competing everyday in friendly games after school. It was then that Mark became intrigued.
“I saw he wanted to play, but he was too shy and didn’t know the game” said Josh. Mark and his father decided their next step would be to sign up for the US Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program coordinated through Detroit PAL. Soccer for Success emphasizes physical activity, nutrition and mentorship. Mark practiced three days a week after school with his friends at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Southwest Detroit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The six-year- old has recently completed the spring 2014 program and has much to show for his efforts. “I like to score goals” he said, displaying his newly acquired kicking technique. While admitting he does not know all of their names, he spends his extra time in yards down the street, playing with those very same neighbors. “Now he doesn’t even think twice” said Josh, “he jumps right in the game, some kids are one and two years older than he is”. Mark finds himself engaged with more neighborhood children than ever before. Inspired by his son, Josh has also joined the program as a Detroit PAL coach.
The spring 2014 season ended with a Jamboree and Mark was awarded a Soccer for Success trophy, a simple reminder representing an amazing life experience. When asked what’s his favorite sport Mark simply smiled, and said, “Soccer.” His favorite days of the week also happen to be “Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.”