With a mission to serve all children despite their background, Cal North provides opportunities for each child to grow, learn, mature and succeed through the sport of soccer. On top of offering leagues, Olympic Development Programs, coaches clinics and training, Cal North has now partnered with Premier Education Group (PEG) to create a Start Healthy Soccer program in six elementary schools in Oakland, Ca. The U.S. Soccer Foundation has helped support the program by awarding a "Innovate to Grow" grant to Cal North. These types of grants are awarded to organizations that are pursuing innovative and non-traditional soccer programs in their respective communities.
“ We have the opportunity to put a soccer ball at the feet of kids who may have never been given the opportunity.” – Mathew Madeira, Executive Director for Cal North
Cal North views this program as yet another vehicle to help promote a healthy lifestyle through soccer. A way to impact a new group of children to not only introduce the sport of soccer but lay a foundation for them to live a more active lifestyle.
The six-week program is incorporated in Oakland Unified School District elementary schools through physical education classes, afterschool clubs and soccer festivals run by PEG and Cal North. Their activity levels are tested through a fitness test at the beginning and end of the program to measure the impact the program has on their physical activity. The first soccer festival of the Start Healthy Soccer program in the Oakland School District was on April 28th with attendance tripling projections. These festivals bring students from all 6 schools together for a fun day of soccer and activities. Cal North took to social media to show their gratitude to those involved and demonstrate the power the program is having.
When asked about the main takeaways from the event, Madeira responded with,
"We have received tremendous support from the Oakland administration. The children are having a great time. At our Festival, we had several parents ask questions about ways for their child to continue in soccer. Bringing the game to all children is our goal and Start Healthy Soccer is is helping us reach our goal."
“With 94,000 Elementary schools in the US and a player population of 88m in children 2-18 years soccer’s future growth has to be with our school partners. The soul of the project however is the importance of the health and wellness outcomes for our children at a time when obesity rates are at an all-time high and the wellness of our young population has come into focus. Kudos to Cal North for investing and supporting in this incredible important initiative and giving Bownet the opportunity to play a role." Mark Botterill, COO of Bownet Sports