From Carnegie Mellon University Athletics
For three weeks in the months of March and April, the Carnegie Mellon University men’s soccer team spent time with local youth in Wilkinsburg teaching the basics of soccer. The newly formed program which ran for eight weeks was hosted by the Hosanna House and was designed for boys and girls ages 6-10.
The director of the program, Justin Forzano, sent out an email to gauge interest from some of the university coaches in the Pittsburgh area and Carnegie Mellon immediately secured three sessions.
“As a member of the Pittsburgh soccer community, we feel it is important for our program to give back and spend time with young players,” said head coach Brandon Bowman. “Many of the Wilkinsburg kids had never played soccer before so it was great for our players to introduce them to the game. We are excited to have partnered with Justin and his organization and we look forward to growing the relationship in the future.”
The sessions consisted of introducing the players to the necessary techniques used in soccer: dribbling, passing, receiving, and ball striking. Tartan players came up with games to play with an emphasis on those techniques and added a mental or psychological element to each session, with themes like teamwork, communication, and work ethic.
“Seeing some players, like Matt De Jesus, come back to volunteer for a second time is even more rewarding because it means that the program is as important to the CMU players as it is the youth,” said Forzano. “One of my favorite moments was when Coach Bowman just completely lost himself in the games they were playing with the youth. It's like he was a kid again.
“The Wilkinsburg community has an extremely high drop-out rate, so it’s important for the youth to gain exposure to and connect with university students, who come from around the country, and then see something they have in common,” continued Forzano. “Perhaps they can see a little bit of their future selves, too, through the game of soccer.”
De Jesus, a freshman on the team this year was excited to participate in the program.
"It was a great time for us to give back to the surrounding Pittsburgh community doing the thing we love most, which is soccer," said De Jesus. "The kids were great and I know all the players on our team loved playing the game with them. We definitely look forward to continuing this type of work in the future."