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FUEL Soccer Talk 12/5: How Soccer lifted Kensington, Kramarić Highlights, and a Holiday Gift Guide

Today we’re looking at the beautiful game’s impact on Kensington, and incredible highlight from Kramaric, and an excellent gift guide for the holidays.

It’s Wednesday and we are moving right along through the week. We have some great articles for you today, check them out!

1. Lifting Kensington — Through Soccer (Philly.com)

Kensington, Pennsylvania is proof of the impact soccer can have on a community, and Jim Hardy is the reason as to how the low income city has progressed to where it is today. Hardy was a community organizer during the 2000s, but he realized he wanted to make change. He wanted to be a teacher, but one that lived the same experience as his students. He wanted to join a community in need and lift up those in need. All this drew Hardy to Kensington.

“He moved there and volunteered for various community groups as an ESL tutor. He got a Temple University education degree, then a permanent job teaching in the Philadelphia School District.”

Hardy sought to bring happiness and joy to students who are accustomed to violence, poverty, and sadness. He knew that the children needed some sort of positive outlet after school. Rather than waiting for something to come along, Hardy took action. He started multiple after school clubs. The more time these children had away from the malice of the community, and the more time they had in a positive environment, the better their overall development will be.

“Hardy tried to start other school clubs. But the open gym time he held in 2010 was a revelation — kids didn’t want to stop kicking the soccer ball around. Most had never played the sport, but they wanted to bring their siblings, and they wanted more programming.”

Hardy grew up with the game of soccer. At first, Hardy put together a modest soccer program. In urban areas such as Philadelphia and surrounding areas, soccer is not readily available due to financial and transportation issues. Hardy mentioned that over 90 percent of the children could not participate in soccer as it was completely inaccessible to them. Hardy saw how much the students loved the game, and, in the infancy stages of the program, he went door to door, put up fliers, and spoke at community events, all to pitch this new soccer program.  Parents loved the idea of a free program that the kids loved and would keep them safe.

“Eventually, the little league grew to what it is now: operating 12 months a year, for youths 3 to 19, with 40 volunteers, 25 coaches, and a budget of over $120,000, funded through grants and donations.”

The club has evolved to a booming part of the society. It includes outdoor leagues, indoor leagues, travel teams, and club teams for both boys and girls. Their motto is “Community Advancement Through Soccer.” Hardy does not see this a solely a soccer club, but as a community. He encourages both the athletes and parents to take home books that are on display at the clubhouse. He routinely schedules college visits, educational activities, and player check-ins. He ensures that they are doing well both in school and at home. He offers help anywhere possible, from tutoring to food and water. He even offers to assist parents in need to help them find jobs or teach them some useful skills. Many of his soccer players are not native English speakers, but Hardy can speak fluent Spanish. This community involvement is more than a full time job for Hardy, it is his life.

“I don’t really care about anything else,” Hardy said of the soccer club. “This lifts me up, keeps me going — the relationships with the kids, the coaches, the parents. I made a promise to myself to put in everything that I can — every minute that I have, every dollar that I can.”

Hardy has devoted his life to serving his community. He is truly a man that anyone can look up to, we wish him well in everything he does. He has a beautiful heart.

This is truly a beautiful example of how soccer can lift a community, how has the game impacted your community?

2. Andrej Kramarić shakes the boots out of defender en route to great goal

Kramaric has a great bit of skill. He leaves his defender on the floor before he buries the goal in the top left corner passed the goalie.

3. Gift Guide for Kids who Love Soccer (Rock Your Homeschool)

The holiday season is upon us, make sure your soccer loving kids get the gifts that they want. Visit the link above to see the full list, but we will outline a few of them here.

Learn the brands. There are many companies that produce soccer goods out there, but be on the lookout for Nike, UnderArmour, Puma, and Adidas. There are many more, but those are the most popular. They are reputable brands that are respected everywhere.

Equipment: Soccer balls, ball pump, shin guard, soccer socks, portable goals, rebounder (useful for efficient practicing), parachute training, and agility ladder.

Accessories: Boot dryer (electric warmer that deodorizes and prevents mold), lace protectors, water bottles, soccer bags, headbands, weather gear for cold/hot weather, and compression shorts (to prevent chafing).

Fun: FIFA 19, puzzles, movies, and gift cards.

What did we miss on this list?