URBANA, Ill. – A new youth soccer program got kids up and moving this summer. This "at-your-own-pace" program centered on at-home activities that could be completed inside or outside, on any schedule. 

“This program is a great COVID era-friendly option for kids,” says Annette Reese, University of Illinois Extension metro 4-H youth development educator for Sangamon County. “We wanted to offer kids a chance to get active and learn a new skill wherever they are and on their schedule.”

“I have a busy schedule so having the flexibility of watching videos at night, making the food I learned about the next day along with trying the soccer skills at my own pace was great for me,” says youth participant Gracie Prose of Ogle County.  “I know we all wish everything could be in person, however having the online program was great!”

This program was developed through Illinois Extension, and the 10-session summer program was open to youth 8-18 across the U.S.

“Since this program is virtual and at-your-own-pace, we wanted to encourage participation in Illinois,” says Reese. “We hope it will get all youth up and moving throughout the summer while developing soccer skills. We have both current and first-time 4-H members.”

The program focused on soccer skills development and fitness but helped youth build skills in related areas such as building overall physical health.

“As a parent, I found the program very well organized and convenient. I especially appreciated the focus on health and exercise,"  says parent Jamie Womble of Jackson County. "That was especially important this year because my son was not able to play soccer with his friends due to COVID."

Coach Paco's videos are available in Spanish. "I had a good time trying to do the soccer exercises and tricks with my son, says Womble, and it was a nice plus for our family that the videos were in Spanish.”

Soccer at Home is a steppingstone into the 4-H Soccer for Success program.

“In 4-H we always want to adapt and meet kids where they are,” says Reese. “Youth were able to participate at home, inside or outside, and at a time that suited their family’s needs while trying out a new skill and program and hopefully sparking a new interest or passion.”

Womble's son, Ethan, appreciated the chance to continue his passion for soccer.

“The At Home program helped me to keep working on my soccer skills," Ethan says.

Soccer at Home ran from May to mid-July and was a partnership with Purdue University Extension, Xiomara N. Diaz-Vargas 4-H state specialist new audience initiatives.  Those interested can learn more about the Soccer at Home program on the 4-H website.

SOURCE:  Annette Reese, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development - Metro Sangamon County, rothger2@illinois.edu
WRITER:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office, carissa7@illinois.edu

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.