LENEXA, KS: Just as Women’s World Cup takes center stage, middle schoolers from Wyandotte County are learning soccer skills, and competing for camp glory in the first Challenger Foundation Free Soccer Camp at Wyandotte High School, thanks to Challenger Sports and the Challenger Foundation.
The Challenger Foundation, a newly formed not-for-profit entity of Challenger Sports, is launching its Soccer In The Community pilot program. Challenger Sports is the largest youth soccer coaching provider in the United States, with over 150,000 players attending camps, clinics, tours, and tournaments annually.
In addition to donating soccer equipment to local schools, Challenger Sports teamed up with Wyandotte High School Girls Soccer Team coaches Josh Wikler and Bre Brandenburgh to create and implement this sports education and character development model for boys and girls in the local area.
Students from Rosedale Middle School, Central Middle School, Argentine Middle School, Northwest Middle School, Sumner Academy and Wyandotte High School were invited to apply for a camp scholarship. A total of 75 applicants were selected.
“We are excited to bring this level of training to our local players right here in our own community. When we remove the barriers of cost and transportation, it makes the sport a lot more accessible to our families” – Wyandotte Coach Josh Wikler
The Foundation soccer camp, coached by Challenger Sports’ international staff of qualified coaches, includes free soccer equipment, skills training; daily World Cup style tournament play; and lessons on respect, responsibility, integrity, sportsmanship, and leadership.
“A week long summer soccer camp currently costs an average of $150 in the Kansas City market. We don’t want this to be the obstacle that keeps kids from participating and learning,” said Peter Arch, co-founder of Challenger Sports.
This Fall, the Challenger Foundation will continue its relationship with Wyandotte County schools by establishing an after–school soccer training and mentoring program. “Engaging kids in positive and healthy sports activities during traditionally at-risk hours will help build a culture of personal growth and achievement while developing strong character and good values. We envision these kids to become our future community leaders,” said Arch.
Within the next 12 months, expansion of the Challenger Foundation Soccer In The Community program will occur locally and nationally, simultaneously. “With 13 regional offices throughout the US, we can duplicate the model, and begin making a positive impact in other major markets quickly,” said Arch.
Future plans also include the formation of a Foundation soccer club. Organized teams of all abilities will play locally; more competitive teams will participate on a local, regional, and national level. And for the most competitive players, the foundation will offer the option to travel and compete overseas.
Sun Fresh Markets and Unilever are supporting the Challenger Foundation with a customer beneficiary program. Throughout the year, Sun Fresh Markets will feature specified Unilever products as “( )”. Unilever will donate a portion of proceeds from each purchase of these products to the Challenger Foundation during the designated time period.