Soccer Kids NYC invited their soccer players and families to “Ice Cream with Coach,” a fun summer event filled with games and plenty of ice cream to go around for the kids and their parents on Saturday, July 31, at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.
Soccer Kids NYC turned the green space next to 75th Place and Juniper Boulevard South into a play area with different game stations like potato sack race, tug of war, bean bag toss games, obstacle courses and motor skill games.
Coach Noe Canales explained that Saturday’s event was the only time they stayed away from soccer as much as possible and that it was a chance for the families, who come from all walks of life, to socialize.
“These kids are always playing soccer. So the summer event is a time when they can wind down,” Canales said. “They come and have some fun, ice cream, and they have games at the different stations.”
Ramona Ciobanu, director at Soccer Kids NYC, said that more than 200 families signed up for the event, and they expected a total of 500 people.
Ciobanu was excited to be back after they had to cancel the event last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The former special ed teacher explained safety was their top priority.
“We were a little bit nervous at first because of COVID, but 99 percent of our staff is vaccinated and our volunteer parents are all vaccinated,” Ciobanu said. “We also send out a pre-screening to make sure that anybody with a runny nose or fever, they shouldn’t be here.”
Kids had their temperatures checked upon arrival and received a wristband after the temperature check, with hand sanitizing stations rounded up the safety measures.
Vincent Lozano of RealFi Home Funding Corp., which sponsors the shirts for Soccer Kids NYC, had high praises for the soccer program. His 8-year-old son has been part of the program since he was 3 years old.
“I enjoyed seeing him grow from where he was, where he was now as an individual,” Lozano said.
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell and Congresswoman Grace Meng handed out medals to the players of the two traveling teams, which placed first and second place in their respective age groups in the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League this year.
Barnwell said he loved attending the event, saying the soccer program is “great.”
“The things that they teach here — besides obviously soccer — are discipline and hard work, and teamwork,” Barnwell said. “You really can’t beat that, especially in today’s day and age.”
Meng said she was proud of the Queens families for overcoming the obstacles the COVID-19 crisis caused, adding that it was programs like Soccer Kids NYC that allowed kids to grow, especially after all the things they had to miss out on during the pandemic.
“With kids on a team, whether you’re a goalie, whether you score, it’s always important to remember that every single player on the team is needed and is a necessary part of this game and your success,” Meng said. “So, in the game of life, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this possible for our kids here in Queens.”
The year-round soccer program for kids between the ages of 2-12 is available throughout Queens and is inclusive of children with special needs.
Coach Canales was particularly proud that joining the soccer school’s travel team was merit-based. Unlike other programs where parents sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars, Soccer Kids NYC doesn’t care about socioeconomic status.
“Anyone who loves the sport and is at the right age is able to join our travel team,” Coach Canales said. “There are only two ways ever to leave the travel team. That is attendance, if our children don’t show up to training sessions without any legal excuse, then that’s a reason to leave the team, and the other one is if they miss two actual games in the regular season.”