15 Jul How E-Soccer Is Teaching Social Inclusion
Every weekend around the bay, 13 E-Soccer sessions take place with the mission of integrating and including children of all ages, talents, and abilities. While a typical soccer league might focus on performance and skill, E-Soccer focuses on reaching out to children and families to give children with all needs an active and enjoyable experience. While E-Soccer has been taking place in the Bay Area for over 19 years, its influence has spread outside of the parks that they take place in. Two organizations that have been especially inspired by E-Soccer are the local Quakes Academy and the new and growing E-Sports program located all the way in the Philippines!
Over the past year, E-Soccer has been able to practice with the Quakes Academy! This organization is well known as the professional youth development program for the Major League Soccer team, the San Jose Earthquakes. In May of 2018, the Quakes Academy hosted an E-Soccer session at Avaya Stadium which is the home field of the San Jose Earthquakes! While most of the Quakes Academy athletes had never played sports with special needs children before, all of the Quakes Academy kids jumped right into the activities without hesitation and began to engage and encourage all of the children who participated. Greg Bodzioch, the current director of E-Soccer described the experience perfectly.
“I feel like we are learning from each other! Our kids are getting to play with some great kids from the academy, and for the academy kids it’s an awesome opportunity to learn about inclusion and to learn how to work with other kids who do not have the abilities that they have. It’s been a phenomenal day, and we hope to do it again!”
Inspired by the E-Soccer program, individuals in the Philippines reached out to E-Sports in 2016 with the hopes of being able to provide inclusive environments similar to those created by E-Sports in the Bay Area within their own communities. Now located in Manila, the program focuses on helping children with all ranges of needs reach their full athletic and social potential through participating and building connections with other children and volunteers. E-Sports in the Philippines now has an “E-Sports Academy” running twice a week that includes soccer, basketball, and fitness programs and even includes a free monthly event that fills their entire training facility. With the Philippines E-Sports’ following continuously growing, the program plans on reaching 10 cities in their communities over the next 10 years.
Since the beginning of E-Soccer back in 2000, multiple E-Sports locations have opened up around the Bay Area including E-Karate, E-Hoops, E-Fitness, and E-Dance! As we look into the future, we hope that E-Soccer’s sphere of influence will expand and spread its message of how integration, empathy, and inclusion can lead to a thriving community!