Foundation Article

The Orlando City Foundation launched a new chapter with its community programs during the inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) preseason for the Lions.

With the end goal in mind to promote exercise and healthy eating among children and families in the community through sports engagement, the Foundation launched its first soccer coaching seminar in partnership with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)—the world’s largest organization serving members at every level of the game across the nation.

Over 40 coaches gathered for a two-day seminar in the Sunshine State for a Level 5 coaching course. Instructed by Tristan Williams and organized by Ashton Baptiste and Steve Wittek of Orlando City SC, the event was held at Stonewall Jackson Middle School giving a wide array of trainees across all ages a platform to build their coaching knowledge. A combination of college, semi-pro and former pro-players, both recreational and competitive coaches, brought the courses to life.

The group included Jonathan Lake, a seasoned coach confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. He has been featured in both the NSCAA's "Journal" (July-August 2010 issue), as well as the US Youth Soccer Program on the Fox Soccer Channel. To learn more of Jonathan’s story, watch below.

Working side by side with Jonathan, two special guests put on their ‘coaching hats’ for the first time this weekend. Jean Sylvain and Paul Jacques are eight grade students at Blankener Middle school, who completed the Foundation’s summer soccer programs located at New Image Youth Center. They not only wanted to continue their growth on the soccer field, but were committed to continue working with children in their community. These two community leaders show all the qualities the Foundation strives to instill. Their exemplary efforts include hard work, dedication and a sense of maturity beyond their years.

Jean and Paul will begin their work as assistant coaches through the Foundation this summer.

The growth of women committed to learning, teaching and playing the sport of soccer has grown over the years. With over a dozen female coaches already in the program, the Foundation is developing its first ever ‘female specific’ summer clinic program. One of the dedicated coaches included Stephanie Cubero, who is with the New York Red Bulls Academy. She flew from New Jersey to be a part of the seminar.

Other out of state coaches included Misael Garzon of South Carolina and Kenny Coutain, a former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers and a longtime soccer player and fan. Kenny explained that even as a professional football player, he never quit working on his touch and foot skills. Kenny is currently leading the boys Varsity team at Oak Ridge High School into the Regional Finals this week.

Also represented over the weekend were coaches from previous and future community programs, such as After School All-Stars and OCPS Extended Day.

The fun and enjoyment of the weekend and the enthusiasm of the participants ensured it was an overwhelming success. Relationships were formed and friendships fostered and coaches increased their knowledge, confidence in teaching today’s youth how to love and play the great sport of soccer.