Fifth Third Bank, Nashville Metros Soccer, Metro Parks, Maciel Construction and Belmont University hosted a soccer clinic Sept. 22.
An estimated 100 youth, ages five to 13, rotated between 10 stations with Belmont student-athletes, where they were exposed to the fundamental skills required to play soccer. Metro Parks recruited the children from its youth programming throughout the city.
“I just really like to help kids and especially help them in soccer, which I love. So hopefully, I can make them love soccer too,” said Belmont freshman Sydney Omweg, who plays defense on the women’s soccer team. “I want to tell them to just stick with it for a while because I have found a lot of great things through soccer, like becoming friends with teammates.”
Fifth Third Bank Vice President of Community Development Luis Parodi approached Belmont with the idea to start the urban soccer clinic. He called on former Olympian and U.S. National Soccer player Desmond Armstrong for assistance. Armstrong played professional soccer for 11 years before transitioning to other roles including commentator for the World Cup, a member of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors and working sports management and marketing. He is now general manager of Nashville Metros Soccer Club, the oldest continuously running soccer club in the United Soccer Leagues’ umbrella and whose home field is E.S. Rose Park.
“Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, loved by people of all ages and backgrounds. We are proud to support this multicultural community event; and feel confident the children, families, Belmont athletes and others involved will reap the benefits of the clinic beyond its initial festivities,” Parodi said.
“Most of the kids live in urban areas, when they think about football, they think about NFL but we want to expose the kids to international football, which is soccer. They don’t have to play it well but they will know the skills and how the game is played so that when they see it on TV, they can identify with people from other parts of the world,” said Belmont’s Director of Community Relations Joyce Searcy. “It is also health related to get the kids in the park and outdoors and use this state-of-the-art facility that is in their own neighborhood.”
Belmont invested $9 million in E.S. Rose Park and Sports Complex in 2010 to renovate the then-underutilized inner-city park through a shared facilities agreement between the University and Metro Parks. Among the renovations was a soccer field with synthetic turf for safety and speed. The park has become the home and practice fields for several of the University’s NCAA Division I teams.