SITS.2018 report.V6 - Page 14



SUCCESSFUL SOCCER LEADERS
Joel Apudo (Napolitano Award) and Ehlahd Israel (Community Champion Award) were recognized at the 2018 Black
Tie Soccer Game for their work with Soccer in the Streets. Their dedication and efforts enhance the lives of the children
in the program and in the Metro Atlanta communities they serve.
SUCCESS
Our young officials earn money and become role models,
encouraging their peers and younger players to consider officiating.
J O EL A P UD O
EHL AHD ISRAEL
B E CO MING R E F E R E E S
Joel Apudo is a role model for local youth players. With the construction and
opening of StationSoccer, participation has rapidly grown over the past two
years. Apudo, a community engagement manager, embodies the traits of the
Napolitano Award (in honor of Nick Napoliano) of leadership, service and
enrichment.
Local West End resident Ehlahd Israel, is the recipient of the Community
Champion Award. A humble individual dedicated to his community and the
children in it, Israel, a local barber, learned about Soccer in the Streets and
connected a group of 10-15 youngsters in 2017 from the West End community
to play at the Station- Soccer Five Points field. Today, more than 150 youngsters participate in the program.
A tight job market has been especially challenging for American teenagers,
particularly in urban areas when opportunities are often limited. Soccer in the
Streets has taken its commitment to the game and its young players to the
next level by offering them the opportunity to earn money as referees. This
new wrinkle enables teens to use their knowledge of the sport, acquire life
and financial management skills while earning game fees.
With the help of the Community Program Manager Toussaint McClure, they
established a program at Brown Middle School. Over the course of one year,
the program grew to about 80 youngsters until the StationSoccer-West End
opened in September 2018, where it continues to flourish.
As soccer continues its inexorable growth in the U.S., the need for qualified
and committed officials is especially extreme, particularly for novice players
and for small-sided matches. So far, the Soccer in the Streets program has
helped 38 young adults become certified US Soccer referees.
“Ehlahd has been the missing piece in West End that we needed for Soccer in
the Streets,” McClure said. “He understands the organization’s motto and how
we can better the lives of these youth players through soccer.”
The program, however, is not without challenges. The initial cost, which can
be more than $200 (for uniforms, whistles, flags, wallet, watches and certification) can be a deterrent. Soccer in the Streets provides all equipment and
covers the US Soccer Grade 9 certification course fee.
Apudo was recruited to Soccer in the Streets by the Program Director Lauren
Glancy in 2016 and has since helped to change the lives of many of the
athletes.
“It was clear from the beginning that Joel had a gift for connecting with youth
on a whole other level,” Glancy said. “When StationSoccer started in 2016,
it was obvious who needed to be the head coach. His ability to lead comes
naturally and the positive impact he has had on the youth is priceless.”
SOCCER IN THE STREETS
13
“It’s gratifying to see the kids go from casual interest to eager apprentice, and
from there, become certified and start to work as a professional referee,” said
Jill Robbins, who conceived and implemented the project. “Over time and with
experience, you get to see them grow in proficiency and confidence. They also
take their responsibility seriously and appreciate the benefit they’ve received.”
Added John Hermann, the head referee assignor for Clarkston FC: “There are
many job skills involved in the role of a referee. These skills will carry over to
most any job later in life such as: being on time; taking care of one’s appearance; making a quick decision; being confident and looking confident; working
with others who have different opinions; following rules and procedures;
managing job commitments and planning.”
Who knows, one day officials who got their starts with the help of Soccer in
the Streets could be in the center of the field for important professional and
international matches. There’s no harm in dreaming.
14
2018 IMPACT REPORT





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