For the past 12 months at Battle Hill Park in White Plains, the fields have been strangely quiet. No soccer balls, frisbees or baseballs and even worse, no sounds of kids playing. But all that changed in April when Backyard Sports Cares launched a pick up soccer program for kids 8-14.
It takes place under the watchful eye of long-time BYSC Coach David Villalobos. Asked what makes this program special, he said, “It’s the kids, just coming out and having fun, playing and having a good time.”
There has been plenty of concern surrounding youth sports as the country emerges from the Covid pandemic. In fact, a recent survey from the Aspen Institute and Utah State University suggests who gets to play is determined by money. Not surprisingly, wealthier kids are reporting many more weekly hours than kids from lower income families.
Which is precisely where BYSC comes in. Players of all skill levels are welcome at Battle Hill and there is no fee for the program. The City of White Plains is providing the field and turnout has been strong and growing every week.
Rosa Zaiunio brings her son every week. “I live just two blocks away, so it’s easy to come. My son loves it, particularly after Covid, he is so happy to come here and get a full hour of exercise.”
Father of two Andrew Pelletir shared this, “For kids who are just starting out and learning the sport, I love pick-up soccer. You throw them in raw, they’ll do their best. They’ll know where they’re weak and they’ll know where they’re strong, and they’ll figure out what to do.”
And Beatrize Guglielmo’s daughter and niece are regulars, “Because of the pandemic, they were in the house for more than nine months. So when this opened up, we were the first ones here because they really like soccer, they enjoy the sport.”
Pick-up soccer is just different, says Coach Villalobos, because, “The kids don’t have any pressure. They just come, pick up a shirt, and play. There’s no coaching, no training, they just come and have fun.”