NORTH FULTON, Ga. – With the 2014 World Cup on the horizon, soccer (or “football”) is gaining traction in the United States. One group is hoping to capitalize on that interest and turn it into a lifelong obsession.
Andy Grant and the coaches at Soccer Shots love the game. They feel it is overlooked as kids get older and see other sports – such as softball, baseball or football – as more interesting. Soccer Shots wants to see those kids stay interested in the sport for their lives.
“Soccer often takes a back seat to basketball and football,” Grant said. “But it’s a great equalizer. Boys, girls, tall or short, they can all play. And because of this, more and more people are playing soccer.”
Grant has opened his soccer training company in Cobb and North Fulton counties and has geared it toward younger players. Soccer Shots is a national program, with bases in 130 cities nationwide and teaching more than 100,000 children ages 2-9 the rules and values of soccer.
“We want to improve the lives of local kids through soccer, strengthen the community through the relationships we make and try to change the world and make a difference the best way we know how – through soccer,” Grant said.
Soccer Shots is based in local schools, using their fields or gym space whenever possible. Already established in Cobb County since October, they are looking to expand into North Fulton this year.
Both sexes are allowed and are taught age-specific soccer and its skills. Two-year-olds may learn coordination while kids up to second grade will learn tactics and team exercises.
“We use the platform of sports and team sports to drive home character development that is age-specific,” he said.
Grant was living in Birmingham, Ala., and spent three years coaching for Soccer Shots. When he was given the opportunity to open the North Atlanta market, he jumped at the chance.
The Atlanta crew has six coaches and will hire more as the program grows. The key is finding the right people to teach students not just the ABCs of soccer, but also of sportsmanship.
“We’re not just trying to get them into soccer,” Grant said. “We’re trying to get them active.”
For more information, visit www.soccershots.org.