“Un, deux, trois. I can speak French too!” said Gisele, a third grader from the Work to Play team at Tarkington School of Excellence.
“That’s very good!” responded Coach Jonathan, a volunteer from IMC Financial Markets, as his team of Tarkington third and fourth graders (the Fire, as they had recently dubbed themselves) warmed up before their first match of the spring season.
When the Fire took the field a few minutes later against Coach Olivier’s Tigers, another IMC-led group of Work to Play participants from Claremont Academy, both teams were in high spirits. After a 3-month off-season, the players from Tarkington, Claremont, and Pasteur Elementary couldn’t wait to shake out all their pent up energy, and they were particularly excited to show the team of assistant coaches from IMC everything they remembered from the fall season.
Within 10 seconds of the first back-to-back of the game, Tarkington’s green jerseys had moved into Claremont’s half of the field, stringing together a couple of quick passes before Claremont’s goalie, Dayvon, blocked a strong shot by a Tarkington third grader named Bryan.
“Close one!” shouted Coach Cristobal as he took pictures from the sideline. “Now run back so you can help your team on defense,” he said as Bryan hustled down the field after the ball.
One field over, two other IMC volunteers, Krista and Carl, had paired up to coach a team of seven third grade girls from Pasteur. Their opponents were a team of quick players from Claremont, but the Pasteur ladies’ defense proved to be rock solid as the minutes ticked by. Coach Krista and Coach Carl cheered when a fourth grader named Julianna netted a perfectly aimed shot past Claremont’s keeper with just a few seconds left in the match.
As the afternoon continued, the players from all three schools showed excellent teamwork, connecting passes and pausing to help up players from other teams when they fell down. Team IMC continued to encourage the players until the day’s final whistle had blown, and when the schools came together for their weekly recap, the kids took turns explaining the meaning of TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.
After a quick picture and a round of high fives, IMC’s volunteers waved goodbye and 90 kids got on buses to head back to their schools. It was a very successful afternoon.
“We’re so grateful to have partners like IMC,” said Jim Dower, Urban Initiatives’ Executive Director, after the games. “They’ve made a huge commitment to our work and our players by sponsoring our programming, and having members of their team come out on afternoons like this speaks volumes to their desire to get involved with the organizations and communities they support. We couldn’t be more excited to count IMC as a member of Team Urban Initiatives!”
A huge thank you to IMC’s Krista, Carl, Issa, Yaser, Jonathan, and Olivier for all their energy and excitement on the field. Our players couldn’t have asked for better coaches.