For most, Mondays bring on a sense of dread, but for the volunteers and players of BRSC Unified Soccer, Mondays are the best and brightest part of the week. Every fall and spring, BRSC invites special needs players of all ages to attend a free training session at Our Lady of the Lake Fields at Burbank Soccer Park on field #4 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
The architect behind this program, Paul Fletcher, takes a different approach to the traditional model of soccer programming for special needs players. Traditionally, the TOPSoccer is held during the day at Independence Park with various activity stations that incorporate components of soccer. The average TOPSoccer session includes soccer bowling, obstacle courses, scrimmages, shooting on goal, soccer tic-tac-toe, and more.
Unified Soccer on the other hand looks like a typical training session that members of the BRSC Competitive Program will have every weekday. The main difference is that Unified sessions will pair special needs players with a partner for the duration of training. Sessions begin with stretching, agility activities, passing patterns, and conclude with a scrimmage.
For Fletcher, the sessions are about connecting with the special needs community and providing a unique experience for the players and volunteers. “It’s great to be back for year four of Unified Soccer,” says Fletcher. “We have several new faces and several Unified Soccer veterans back on the pitch.”
Traditionally, Fletcher invites a new competitive team to serve as partners during the club season. When their season breaks for the winter, local high school soccer teams step in to help as volunteers. “We are always looking for teams to partner with from club to high school. Sponsors and additional equipment are other items we need to help deliver fresh, new training sessions each season.”
The fall has four more sessions to finish out the season. Programming will resume after the New Year with seven sessions planned.
During the BRSC Red Stick Tournament, Fletcher is hoping to have a Unified Soccer jamboree on the Championship field. The Unified Soccer program last held a tournament jamboree back in 2019 to christen the Championship Field following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Unified Soccer is a great way for kids with disabilities to come out and enjoy the beautiful game in a fun, safe, and organized environment,” says BRSC Executive Director Louie Smothermon. “Many thanks to Paul for taking the lead with this fantastic program and to all of the parents, volunteers, and sponsors for their support.”
Monday, Oct. 23
Monday, Nov. 13
Monday, Nov. 27
Monday, Dec. 11