By Daniela Ramirez
A nonprofit in Temecula is safely creating memories for children during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Every Saturday at Patricia Birdsall Sports Park in Temecula, City SC Soccer Club allows children of all ages to come out to learn basic and advanced soccer skills. It also allows them to be active, get fresh air and see their friends.
Jason Stewart, 16, of Temecula, and Eli Mendoza, 16, of Hemet, volunteer as youth coaches. The boys also play for the City SC soccer club.
They spend their Saturdays teaching kids from ages 5-12 basic soccer skills.
“It’s so much fun coming out here and teaching the kids,” Stewart said.
These high school boys, who have not spent time with their friends in a while, said they appreciate the time outdoors.
“When I come out to play soccer, I make the most of it,” Mendoza said.
Angelo Fiorini, 42, of Temecula, has been coaching soccer since 2013. Fiorini, one of the club directors, said he felt a lot of children were missing the fundamentals of soccer and wanted to fill that missing piece.
“To judge yourself as a coach, it’s not the wins,” he said. “It’s the impact.”
Director Mike Richards, 54, also of Temecula, rebranded the program last year, combining two other clubs in Carlsbad and San Marcos. He has been with City SC for 10 years.
Richards highlighted the importance of sports, especially during these difficult times.
“The youth program is something that can really help the physical and of course the mental well-being for the kids,” Richards said.
Rachel Sebastian, 10, of Temecula, has been playing soccer for three years. She has dreams of playing soccer at the college level one day.
“I love soccer,” Sebstian said. “It’s my favorite sport.”
Sebastian, a fifth grader, said she misses her friends but that playing soccer at the club makes her very happy.
Youth soccer programs give young kids a head start in their soccer careers. Many top professional soccer athletes started off in youth programs like the American Youth Soccer Organization and City SC Soccer Club. Landon Donovan, a retired Los Angeles Galaxy player, began playing with an organized soccer club at six years old in Redlands.
According to Richards, City SC intends to build up community.
“That’s why it’s ‘City’ in our name,” he said. “Because of the focus on community.”