Soccer Kids NYC, a soccer program based in Middle Village, is teaching children more than how to excel at soccer; it is teaching them important life lessons that they will take with them when they leave the pitch.
After playing soccer in high school and college, Noe Canales, founder of NYC Soccer Kids, suffered an injury that prevented him from playing the game he loved. Being an early childhood educator, he decided to combine his love of soccer with his strong educational background.
So Canales created Soccer Kids NYC in 2014 with the intention of giving children a great experience with the “beautiful game,” not just instructional drills and practice games. Since that time, Soccer Kids NYC has grown to serve hundreds of kids ages 2 to 9 every season.
Canales and his staff of coaches focus on creating a fun learning experience based around soccer that will last well beyond the field of play.
“Respect, hard work, never giving up, celebrating your achievements, being accepting of others and losing gracefully but learning from it, are key aspects of what we strive to teach our soccer kids,” Canales said. “Those skills that are not soccer related are the ones that translate across settings. Those are the skills that those kids are going to take home. Those are the skills that those kids are going to need at school when they hit an obstacle. That’s the one thing we are very proud of.”
Canales works to bring in the best coaches that fit the program’s teaching style, and it has worked. Soccer Kids NYC has a 100 percent retention rate with their coaches, because “we put them first,” Canales said.
“The key to our program is that we do not hire the best ‘soccer coach,’ instead we hire the best ‘child coach,’ people who are simply passionate about teaching and working with kids,” he added. “Our interview process includes the coaches spending an entire day with the kids in an effort to figure out whether they are a match with the program. We are proud of the quality and our approach to coaching and we know very well that the coach is truly the secret ingredient to the work we do.”
The program has even garnered interest from local schools.
Soccer Kids NYC currently works with five different schools — Emilia’s Kids in Elmhurst, Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Forest Hills, St. Helen Academy in Howard Beach, Preschool of America in Rego Park and The Montessori Family School in Midtown East.
“There has been a high demand for bringing our program to different schools but we are careful and thoughtful about who we work with,” Canales said. “For us is all based on great relationships and quality, so it’s a discovery process with the school requesting our services. This may explain our 100 percent retention rate of schools that have introduced our program. I think this is also an indication that our performance and quality is making an impact in our community.”
The program is looking to continue their stellar training sessions, working with local schools and are testing the waters for an internal intramural league this coming year, with the hopes of developing relationships with local soccer academies.