Shymel has plenty of reasons to be proud. On April 28, the 10-year-old played goalie for the Kerr Family YMCA Weasels soccer team. During the tournament, Shymel made 12 saves and won MVP honors. It’s hard to believe this is the first year he played the game.
Shymel is one of more than 100 children in the YMCA’s Y Life and Y Learning tutorial programs who participated in the Second Annual Soccer Kids of America and Y Learning Soccer Tournament. Twelve teams from the Alexander, Cary, Durham, Finley, Kerr and Kraft YMCAs faced off at West Cary Middle School to put their new skills in action.
“Most of these kids hadn’t even seen soccer game a few months ago. Their families couldn’t afford to sign their children up for area soccer leagues,” said Michelle Rhino, a YMCA Outreach Director at the Cary Family YMCA. “This tournament is a fun, exciting way for the kids to play this game and show their new skills to their families.”
Over the past few months, students in the Y Learning program have been getting some extra tutoring in the game of soccer. Y Learning is a fully subsidized, after school tutorial program for children in grades 3 – 8. School counselors identify children who need academic assistance. Currently, more than 1,100 students participate thanks to contributions to the Y’s We Build People campaign.
Two years ago, the Y teamed up with Soccer Kids of America. The organization teaches character development and soccer skills at after school sites throughout the country.
When Anthony Hardison heard about the program, he knew the Y and Soccer Kids of America were a perfect fit. Anthony is the community outreach director at the Kerr Family YMCA. Soon, Y Learning sites throughout the Triangle incorporated the soccer program into their curriculum. This partnership gives kids exposure to a popular sport that helps them get active and have fun.
“It’s crazy how excited the kids are,” exclaimed Anthony. “They are just pumped!”
Even the professionals were pumped. The Carolina RailHawks conducted a clinic for players in between games. The two teams that advanced to the championship game won RailHawks tickets for the players, coaches and families.