The College of Charleston has been participating in an outreach program in North Charleston this spring and summer that uses soccer to engage with youth to promote positive behavior and educational goals.
Through a unique partnership with Nottingham Forest in the Community, the charitable arm of the United Kingdom’s Nottingham Forest Football Club, the Charleston Goals Project is currently working with children from North Charleston’s Latino community. The Charleston Goals Project not only partners with the College, but also with the North Charleston Police Department and Parks & Recreation Department, as well as Charleston’s professional soccer team, the Charleston Battery. The Battery’s goalkeeper, Odisnel Cooper, and NCPD Detective Ruben Serrudo coach the children who attend the Charleston Goals Project’s sessions.
On a recent afternoon, the children mixed up their soccer routine and played kickball on Doc Hursey Field at the Danny Jones Recreation Center in North Charleston. Each week, the children participate in a fun after-school activity that pairs them with a professional soccer player. The program takes place every Tuesday afternoon from 6 to 7 p.m. during the spring and summer months, rain or shine. In July and August, the project will bring a team of UK soccer coaches to Charleston.
Nottingham Forest in the Community began its partnership with the College in 2012, through the establishment of a First Year Experience course for CofC freshmen. The course includes a study abroad program called the UK Soccer Experience, an eight-day trip that allows students to examine the role of soccer in contemporary England.
“The program’s goal was to engage students early in an international experience…and the hope was it would change the conversations in classrooms,” said Jimmie Foster, Jr., the College’s assistant vice president for admissions and financial aid, who volunteers with the Charleston Goals Project.
The First Year Experience course has provided opportunities for CofC students to become interns at Nottingham Forest in the Community while studying abroad in England, as well as aid in the development of the Charleston Goals Project upon the students’ return to the United States. Foster and Bruce Fleming, director of experiential and residential programming for the College, co-created the UK Soccer Experience and have been pleased to receive the assistance of interns that include students Luke Morris ’16, Domenic Finelli and Emma Cohn.
Fleming says that this internship is popular and thriving, with the program already having selected interns for fall 2016 and spring 2017.
“The internship in Nottingham provides an experiential learning component to our College of Charleston study abroad program and is a direct result of creating First Year Experience Abroad, which started with the UK Soccer Experience as a pilot project in Spring 2012,” said Fleming.
Cohn, a senior communication major, participated in the UK Soccer Experience in the spring of 2014, interned in England in the fall of 2015, and now volunteers her time with the Charleston Goals Project.
“My internship with Nottingham Forest in the Community was very beneficial to me because I was able to see how a charitable trust of a football club operated behind the scenes,” said Cohn. “I learned a lot about what it takes to create, develop, and establish programs for the club with the hopes of positively affecting the community.”
The project’s main goal is to use the sport of soccer to engage North Charleston’s Latino community, attracting children ages 9 to 13 to participate in an activity that encourages young, disadvantaged people to volunteer, further their education, and seek employment, said Graham Moran, the chief executive of Nottingham Forest in the Community.
“Soccer is a great engagement tool that attracts all ages and abilities,” said Moran. “It transcends cultural and economic boundaries.”
To help spread information about the Charleston Goals Project in Spanish or learn more about the UK Soccer Experience, watch and share the videos below:
This article was written by Aleah Ralph, a junior from Fort Mill, South Carolina, majoring in communication at the College of Charleston. She is a writing intern for The College Today.