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Kids Kick up Their Heels in Greenburgh

GREENBURGH, N.Y — Soccer was the sport of the day Saturday when more than 100 kids between the ages of 5 and 12 swarmed Yosemite Park for the fourth annual soccer clinic organized by the African American Men of Westchester .

For two hours, six volunteer coaches taught the kids the sport's fundamentals, making them run, kick, head and, of course, score goals.

“It allows them some sort of exercise and to learn from professional teachers,” said Dawn Barrett of White Plains, adding that this was the second time she brought her daughter Annia Takori, 8, to the event. “I did it two years ago and my daughter loved, so we are back.”

Sam Washington, a teacher at Woodlands school, wanted to give his kids a chance to practice the sport.

“They love soccer and they are excited because it’s the first time they played soccer this year,” he said about his two sons, Desmond, 8, and Jadyn, 6.

The African American Men of Westchester was created in 1987 by African-Americans of different professions who worried about the high level of homelessness among the African-American population, said Melvin Burruss, the organization’s president.

Burruss said soccer isn’t as popular in Greenburgh as in other places of Westchester, such as Rye and Scarsdale, and that his organization is trying to be a “feeder of soccer for the Greenburgh community.”

“It’s a way to teach discipline, work with each other, skills that you can transfer to your daily life,” he said, adding that African-Americans who play soccer have better chances to get scholarships, in particular in historically black universities.

Cyprian II, the event chairman, said his son got a scholarship at SUNY Albany.

“Soccer is the passport for better education,” he said.

Graham Smith, a board member of the Westchester Youth Soccer League and one of the volunteer coaches in the clinic, believes Greenburgh youth should have more opportunity to practice soccer.

“There’s a lot of people in this community that don’t have the opportunity to learn something about soccer,” he said.

During the event, the kids were divided into groups according to their age and rotated around the field, learning different fundamentals with different coaches.

“It’s fun and you get to use your feet a lot,” Desmond Washington said.

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