It is better to give than to receive.
That’s what parents and teachers try to tell kids around this time of year. Many kids, however, are thinking about what they will receive for Christmas. But FC Strikers, an under-13 soccer team that’s part of the Laurel Soccer Club in Maryland, is thinking about giving . . . all year long.
It started in September when Luca Utterwulghe asked his mother to buy him $150 Nike HypervenomX indoor soccer shoes. His mom, Gillian Huebner, who has worked for 20 years for international organizations for children’s rights and protection, explained that most kids play the beautiful game on dirt fields and in bare feet.
Some time after their talk about expensive soccer gear, the Strikers gathered to watch “Pelada,” a movie about pickup soccer games around the world.
The film made a big impression on the Strikers. First, Luca noticed that the players were “really good.” But teammate Alex Gent realized the players from the different countries did not live in nice houses as the Strikers did. Donovan Cox also saw the players “did not need expensive clothing to play” the game they all loved.
That got the Strikers and their parents thinking. What if the boys tried to raise money for less fortunate soccer players? They called their idea “the Soccer Challenge.” Each player on the team would try to raise as much money as his most expensive piece of soccer equipment, such as the $150 indoor soccer shoes.
The money would be sent to an international organization to buy soccer balls and other equipment for refugees in Jordan.
The Strikers went after the Soccer Challenge like a loose ball in front of the goal. Luca and Donovan raised $200 selling hot chocolate at the lighting of the neighborhood Christmas tree. Willem Giebel, another Strikers teammate, sold his Cam Newton shirt and Legos on eBay. Alex and Donovan plan to make money shoveling snow (if Mother Nature cooperates).
The Strikers did not limit their good works to the Soccer Challenge. Ten members of the team and several parents ran in the annual Trot for Hunger in downtown Washington. The team raised $2,800 for So Others Might Eat, a local organization that helps poor and homeless people.
All the work to raise the money had another surprising benefit: “It makes you think twice before you buy expensive things,” Luca said.
Too often sports, and even kids sports, are about which team is winning or who is No. 1. So it is nice to see a bunch of kids and their parents turn a soccer team into a way to raise money for less fortunate kids.
And to learn it’s better to give than to receive.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids.