By Megan Dobesh
six Saturdays in the spring and six Saturdays in the fall, it is common to see second through fifth grade students walk up to Falk School in their blue Millennium soccer uniforms in anticipation of playing soccer for the next hour and a half. Some kids show up early and help set up the fields; some arrive right on time ready to play; a few trickle in after play has started ready to jump in on whatever field needs an extra player. Each student brings a smile and a desire to play soccer.
Falk School is one of several Millennium soccer sites in the Madison area. Millennium Soccer is a program that provides the opportunity for kids to play soccer - for free! For many of the kids that Millennium serves, this is the only opportunity that they will get to play organized soccer. Many of the sites are neighborhood based, which makes it possible for students to walk or bike to the field.
Five years ago, I started teaching at Falk Elementary School. It made sense, being a soccer coach, that I would volunteer and help out on the Saturdays that I was available. At the time I was coaching the Madison 56ers U13 Girls Red team and decided to bring my players along to help coach and encourage the younger kids. The girls on my team LOVED it! Every year since, I always ask the kids on my 56er team to come out and volunteer at the Falk Millennium site. It's a simple and great way to give back to the community and to the sport of soccer. This year, again, I had girls from my U13 Red team, along with players I had previously coached that are now in high school, volunteer at the Falk site. Not only did kids from our club come out to volunteer, but fellow Madison 56ers coach Tory Pomeroy also volunteered her time to help run a field. It only takes one time of volunteering at a Millennium site, and you will be hooked.
There's no score involved, but it's clearly a "win win" situation. The Falk kids thoroughly enjoy the leadership and encouragement of the 56er kids, and the 56er kids are rewarded with smiles and enthusiasm. Every time I bring kids from our club to volunteer at the Millennium site, they are bombarded with questions, including, "Will you come back next Saturday?" Looking at the smiles of the Millennium kids, it's nearly impossible to say "no." If you're wondering just how much the 56ers kids enjoy volunteering at Millennium, ask yourself, how many things motivate a high school student to get out of bed at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to volunteer? The answer: 40 smiling soccer players that just want a chance to play.
Millennium club members with
coach Tory Pomeroy of the 56ers