New program gives every kid a chance to play soccer

A new program is aiming to get kids with special physical, cognitive or developmental needs off the sidelines and onto the soccer pitch.

Port Moody adaptive soccer is a collaboration of the Port Moody Soccer Club and the Unique Get Together Society. The program, for kids aged 6-16, will run for 10 weeks beginning Friday, Sept. 15.

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It’s a chance for kids with challenges to enjoy an activity others take for granted, said Debra Abraham, the executive director of Unique Get Together.

“It’s something they don’t have,” Abraham said. “Regular kids have choice, they have programs. It’s every child’s right to have that choice.”

For Port Moody SC, it’s an opportunity to become more inclusive, said its president, Matthew Campbell.

“Soccer is a tool to help educate our kids and help them become better people,” Campbell said. “We want to create an environment where kids not only love to play soccer, but they also learn some terrific life lessons.”

Those lessons can be as simple as learning to run, kick a ball and fall down.

Abraham said the idea for a formalized soccer program grew from unstructured play on the field and in the gym with kids her society helps. But when she looked around for a program that could give those kids proper coaching to develop their skills even further, none existed in the Tri-Cities. That’s when she approached Port Moody SC.

Thompson said the program fits in with their mandate to be a community-based soccer program that serves everyone in the community. The club has hired a coach, Francis Chandra, who’s been working with a coach from a similar program in North Vancouver.

So Chandra can focus on developing the kids’ soccer skills, Abraham said her group will be providing support workers to attend to any special needs they might have. Even kids in wheelchairs are being invited to participate.

“We’ll figure it out,” Abraham said.

That also allows parents to relax and just enjoy their kids’ accomplishments.

“We’re so focussed on the disability we forget they have abilities,” Abraham said. “This is not about producing soccer stars, this is about them having fun, being a part of their community, creating childhood memories.”

• The Port Moody adaptive soccer program begins Friday, Sept.15, from 6-7 p.m. Registration for the 10-week session is $204,50. For more information go to www.portmoodysoccer.com/adaptive-soccer-program

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