By Pheben Kassahun
LACKAWANNA, New York (WKBW) — Soccer fans around the world have their eyes on the biggest women’s tournament “the beautiful game” has to offer.
As the Women’s World Cup is well underway in New Zealand, soccer season is just getting started for many a young player in Western New York.
In Lackawanna, there is a girls’ soccer league that is doing more than just giving young ladies a space for the sport.
Michael Commerford and his daughter, Savannah, are preparing for a new session of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s “Soccer for Success”.
It is sponsored by Independent Health.
“She said she wanted to try something new and I said, let’s try soccer. She did it one time and told her let’s do it again and she loves it,” Commerford said.
Girls from 3rd through 8th grade get to play at Victory Park, in Lackawanna.
The program is led by female coach-mentors, empowering young girls to play sports and increase their self-esteem.
Head coach and soccer mentor, Maddie Sowinski said, “Today is actually our game day so we practice three times a week. Our first two days are curriculum based through social and emotional learning and through soccer skills. Then on our game days, we focus on scrimmaging and different types of games. Through our girls in the game program, we also have social and emotional journals that we go very different topics with the girls.”
“This gets kids out of the house and stop playing video games. Being outside is more important than being stuck in the house all the time,” Commorford said.
They really focus on and giving a young player a chance to play soccer and get equal opportunities to play the beautiful game.
The program is free.
Sowinski said, “Today is actually our game day so we practice three times a week. Our first two days are curriculum based through social and emotional learning and through soccer skills. Then on our game days, we focus on scrimmaging and different types of games. Through our girls in the game program, we also have social and emotional journals that we go very different topics with the girls.”
There are a multitude of benefits of signing girls up for sports:
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation:
Girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than those who do not play sports. Just four hours of exercise a week may reduce a teenage girl’s risk of breast cancer by up to 60%. On top of it all, sports like soccer help girls learn about teamwork, goal-setting, the pursuit of excellence in performance and perseverance all critical skills necessary for success in the workplace.
Sowinski said, “This really gives every kid a chance to get the chance to play, you know they try to break down every single barrier there is.”
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