Summer is in full swing and that means it’s time for KickStart! On Tuesday, more than 300 kids from across Toronto Community Housing gathered at Downsview Park to help kick-off the fifth year of the KickStart program - a free, eight-week soccer program for children aged six to 12 years. Teams gathered in their bright uniforms, ready to hit the field with a few friendly soccer games, drills, and more.
KickStart participants take part in drills at the summer launch event.
The crowd even showed off their moves with a fun dance break alongside MLSE staff.
KickStart kids enjoy a dance break with MLSE staff.
The best surprise of the day came when the entire Toronto FC team dropped by to help kick-off the season and share some words with the kids.
Young fans for the chance to rub shoulders with the pros, grabbing a few autographs and even running a few drills with the players.
Toronto FC players sign autographs for KickStart participants at the 2016 launch event.
Funded by the MLSE Foundation and Kia Canada Inc., this year’s KickStart season will be bigger and better than ever with 25 additional participants, a new homework club program, and an all-girls program with female instructors that focuses on sport development for girls.
Since 2012, the KickStart program has impacted more than 1,300 kids, trained more than 150 community coaches and grown from 10 to 16 sites across the Greater Toronto Area. MLSE Foundation has committed more than $400,000 to the program over five years, with $100,000 committed to the 2016 program.
KickStart teams pose for pictures.
KickStart programs will be held in 15 Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods from August to October. Kids will meet three times a week for weekly for practices and friendly competitions. The goal of the program is to not only build soccer skills but teach valuable life skills such as self-esteem, fair play and leadership.
Each host community will be provided with equipment, uniforms, activity booklets, coaching manuals and trained, knowledgeable staff. All program staff and youth mentors are hired from within each Toronto Community Housing community.We can’t wait to hit the field and make this year’s KickStart season one to remember!
Read the KickStart 2016