Washington is communications coordinator for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which recently hosted its first Soccer for Success national training seminar for coaches at Georgetown University. The foundation, which is the charitable arm of U.S. Soccer, is in its third year of the Soccer for Success after-school program.
What's Soccer for Success?
We target underserved communities. The program provides kids with structured physical activities and mentorship. It's free for kids to attend, they come three times a week for two 12-week sessions during the school year. ... We have them go through at least 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise and go through soccer activities that pair nutritional education, so they not only learn soccer skills but how to eat and live healthy.
What training do coaches receive?
They go through workshops on behavior management -- like how do you grab the attention of a 6-year-old when they're still amped [up] from after school? And family management: How do you get the family involved? Or how do you initiate conflict resolution?
Are behavior and nutrition overlooked areas?
We know that life expectancy for a lot of kids in this generation will be shorter than their parents' due to the obesity epidemic. Soccer's a great way to get kids moving, but aside from the physical activity piece, kids need to learn how to eat healthy.
Is it that bad?
There's a game we play called, Go Vegetables Go! The coach stands at one end of the field and kids are at the other end. He yells out a veggie and kids go forward, when he yells out a junk food, they have to stop. It's amazing, but sometimes kids think Cheetos are a good food and they'll run forward. ... So [in camp], they learn how to dribble a ball and control a ball and they also learn that Cheetos are not a vegetable.
- Liz Farmer