MLSE Foundation, Toronto FC and Kia Canada Inc. teamed up with Toronto Community Housing on Tuesday at Kia Training Ground to launch the fifth year of KickStart, a free eight-week soccer program for more than 300 children aged six to 12 years. Participants had the opportunity to learn from the pros as Toronto FC’s First Team and coaching staff were also in attendance to celebrate the launch.
“We’re excited to partner with Toronto FC, Kia Canada Inc. and Toronto Community Housing for the fifth year of the KickStart program,” said Michael Bartlett, Executive Director of MLSE Foundation. “By using soccer to engage youth and their families, our goal is to promote skill-building, community-building and healthy active living.”
The KickStart program is expanding in 2016 with 25 additional children participating compared to 2015, a new homework club program for all participants, and an all-girls program with female instructors that focuses on sport development from a female perspective. 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.
“We are ecstatic that KickStart this year is expanding with 25 more participants, a new all-girls program, and a homework program that will help participants with their school work,” said Simone Atungo, Vice President, Resident and Community Services of Toronto Community Housing. “The life lessons these kids will learn through sport including teamwork, leadership and fair play have a lasting benefit, both on and off the field.”
KickStart programs will be held in 15 Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods from August to October. Participants will build their soccer skills and learn valuable life skills such as self-esteem, fair play and leadership, meeting three times weekly for practices and friendly competitions. Funded by MLSE Foundation and Kia Canada Inc., each host community will be outfitted 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.
“Kia Canada is very proud to support our partners, Toronto FC and MLSE Foundation, with programs such as KickStart. This collective, community effort is a great avenue to teach kids not only about soccer, but about fair play, leadership, healthy living and teamwork,” said Ted Lancaster, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Kia Canada Inc. “As the international sponsor of FIFA and the exclusive automotive partner of all three Canadian Major League Soccer teams, we are aiming to further Drive Change in our community by supporting this great endeavor that will benefit Canadian youth by participating in this wonderful global game.”
For more information about KickStart, please visit http://www.mlsefoundation.org/