Vine City, located two miles to the west of Downtown Atlanta, is one of the many communities of metro Atlanta where Soccer in the Streets has planted its seeds. Vine City Thunder, the resulting product of Soccer in the Streets’ programming, is a multi-cultural team in the heart of the Westside, providing an outlet for kids around the area to fall in love with the beautiful game while shaping their personalities off the field. The sessions are a part of the Soccer in the Streets community-based programs. The seeds are germinating.
With a playground and large green space, Vine City allows kids to feel safe while enjoying the game. With the season only being a few weeks in, new players are already showing promise both on and off the field. Also, the program aids in developing an understanding of people from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods, reinforcing the notion of unity and mutual respect through soccer.
Through this program, kids are educated based on the four leading values of the Soccer in the Streets philosophy: Perseverance, Enjoyment, Empowerment, and Respect. These values are important not only in soccer, but in everyday life, and are instilled in drills and in the relationships cultivated between the players and the coaches. The enjoyment of the game is evident in the ear to ear smiles and cheers from both players and coaches.
“Coaching the kids has helped me as a person and soccer player. I value coaching them because I want to help them be the best they can be, on and off the field”, said Coach Abu Tommy, of Vine City. “I want to always highlight to my kids that learning patience is key to being a successful soccer player”.
Soccer in the Streets’ coaches were at the cool spring Friday evening practice, setting up cones for a small sided fun game and passing drills. On this day in particular, each drill was based on learning and practicing discipline. During one of many drills, The kids were told to focus on keeping the ball close to their feet and eyes up while dribbling, later passing the ball to a teammate. At the end of the successful practice, the kids enjoyed a scrimmage. While the kids were laughing and playing, the smiles on their faces grew, knowing they were playing alongside their coaches, their role models.
Community-based programs, such as Vine City, allow children -that may not have the opportunity to play elsewhere- a safe place to play that is nearby and free of charge. The coaches successfully create an environment where the kids are not pressured, and everyone is there for the same reason: to learn and play. Not only are the kids learning valuable skills both on and off the field, but the coaches take invaluable lessons as well.
Vine City is part of a larger community strategy developed by Soccer in the Streets. This type of hyper-local programming is also at English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, West End, Oakland City, College Park, Agape Community Center, Station Soccer – Five Points, and Clarkston. With the start of another successful spring season, hundreds of kids will be influenced by the programs.