When LBAA was originally founded over 5 years ago, the focus was on making recreational opportunities more available to the low-income youth of Long Branch mostly by finding outside volunteer coaches to organize teams (including driving players to games) and paying for team registration fees. Overtime it had become more and more clear that the parents themselves were eager to play a central role in running their child’s teams. Of course there are real barriers preventing many of the parents from regularly attending practices and games–transportation, changing job schedules, multiple kids to watch after. So this past summer we started holding bi-weekly academy nights where all kids practiced together to give families a chance to get to better know each other and find ways to provide support to one another in finding creative ways to overcoming all the real life obstacles that come up during the season.
So, after a summer in which a group of nearly 20 parents–alongside the leadership of Armando–ran Tuesday and Thursday soccer practices for about 40 Broad Acres 3rd-5th grade boys and girls, we have 8 parent-coached and coordinated teams in 6 divisions k-5 in the Takoma Park Soccer League. In addition to playing weekend games, each team is practicing on its own once a week as well as coming together on Thursdays for weekly academy nights where parent coordinators and coaches can check in with one another and provide support. Already several parents are taking the lead on putting together some kind of math/reading support club for the players. Others are talking about raising money to buy water bottles for all the kids so to cut down on the amount of wasteful plastic water bottles left behind at the fields. Keep checking in to see what progress these amazing parents make in their effort to be more active in enriching their children’s lives as much as possible.