World Cup champion’s free soccer program keeps Queens youth practicing skills at home

Screen Shot 2020-11-20 at 4.52.31 PM
Photo via DV7 Academy

Young immigrants, Latino youth and unaccompanied minors once again have the opportunity to keep their soccer skills sharp throughout the fall as FIFA World Cup champion and Queens FC co-founder David Villa, Councilman Francisco Moya and Hispanic Federation launch the third season of the Soccer Camp for Immigrant and Latinx Youth.

Originally conceived in 2019 as an in-person soccer academy for unaccompanied minors living in New York City, the program was forced to shift to virtual programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change allowed the soccer camp to open to a wider audience and move to a two-season program, with a spring session being planned for 2021. The soccer camp, operated through a generous grant and support from Moya’s office, is open to all Queens youth between the ages of 5 and 17 and is free of charge.

“Fútbol is the universal language that unites us all and we need programs like this soccer camp to combat the negative effects of COVID-19 on our community,” Moya said. “This new season of the soccer academy will ensure that youth can build social connections and stay healthy, all the while learning from the best of the best in soccer like World Cup champ David Villa. I am grateful to David and the DV7 Academy for their commitment, and to partners like Hispanic Federation that are tirelessly working for the betterment of our community.”

This year’s programming will be offered exclusively through an app called OWQLO, allowing participants to use mobile devices to access content rather than relying on internet-enabled computers. David Villa’s renowned DV7 Soccer Academy has designed a seven-week curriculum of interactive videos to improve technical skills, fitness training along with quizzes about soccer, soccer players and FIFA World Cup facts. All of the content is offered in both Spanish and English.

In addition to the DV7 Soccer Academy, Villa is also committed to strengthening the community with his ownership in Queensboro FC. As co-founder of the new United Soccer League professional soccer club — the first in the borough — he will continue to maintain a presence in New York City, support programs that serve Hispanic youth and families and help rebuild the city as it approaches a post-pandemic reality.

“Children need to stay motivated, active and connected during these difficult and unpredictable times, and this soccer camp is extremely important to me,” Villa said. “I want to continue providing the youth with my knowledge, experience and inspiration so that they can train their minds and bodies to always stay healthy and positive. One camp can make a lifelong difference for a child, and I am committed to helping shape their overall growth and development.”

As part of their immigration work, Hispanic Federation has been a partner of the program since its inception. The social justice and service organization has focused this year on strengthening relations with existing partner foster care agencies and reaching out to Queens-based immigration organizations, schools and other institutions to ensure the program continues to predominantly serve unaccompanied minors, immigrant youth and other young people in marginalized communities. Approximately 60 youth have already enrolled in the program with room for up to 200 more.

“This soccer program was created two years ago to provide youth who have been through hardship with a healthy outlet, entertainment and the opportunity to simply enjoy being a kid. It is more important than ever that programs like this not only continue but evolve to provide a sense of relief during these turbulent times,” Hispanic Federation President Frankie Miranda said. “The Latino community, the Queens community and immigrant communities everywhere have all been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and if this soccer program can provide a sense of normalcy to a young person for even a moment, we have all done our jobs. I am truly grateful to all the partners who helped make this happen once again.”

The fall season of the soccer program runs through Dec. 19 and youth are encouraged to register. For more information and to register, visit the academy website here.

More from Around New York