Students volunteer in an inclusive soccer program


Elicia Locke

Diablo Valley College student Christian Giron runs a soccer warm-up with a player during a soccer program working to help children with special and typical needs.

Elicia Locke, Staff member

Why would college students drive to Muirwood Park in Pleasanton on a Saturday morning to play duck-duck-goose?

Diablo Valley College students from the Pleasant Hill and San Ramon campuses are volunteering in a unique soccer program known as e-soccer. Long-time volunteer and DVC student Grace Walters explains the program.

“E-soccer is a full inclusion program for children with special needs and typical kids,” she says. “We teach them and coach them in playing soccer.”

Each Saturday throughout the soccer season, students help children run drills and exercises in creative ways. Children learn basic skills to help build their confidence in activities disguised as regular playground activities. Warm-ups like shark-and-minnows or duck-duck-goose help players develop running and coordination skills in a way that is engaging.

“The most rewarding thing is when you’re with the kids and at the beginning of the season they don’t want to go on the field, but at the end they do. They actually want to play soccer,” says volunteer Christopher D’Amore, who has been volunteering for nine years along with his older brother.

Michaela Borthwick is new to the soccer program and to DVC, but is enjoying the volunteer work just as much as the veterans. “I just started e-soccer, and I already love it,” Borthwick says. “It’s so fun interacting with the kids and getting to know them.”

Christian Giron, another DVC student and volunteer, hopes to expand the e-programs in the Pleasant Hill area. He discussed his interest in the program and how he hopes to bring these resources to DVC.

“I grew up enjoying soccer and I found out about a soccer program to help special needs kids … I thought it would be cool to help out in that way and give back.”

Giron enjoys working with the kids and wants to bring his passion for sports to DVC. But rather than play soccer, he wants to introduce an inclusive basketball program to the Pleasant Hill campus.

“We are going to start an e-hoops program at DVC within the next couple months,” he says.

“I’ve talked to the coach (of the DVC basketball team) … and he says that he’s willing to help with whatever we need. I really want the kids to have a different opportunity … being able to play basketball as well. It’s a fun sport and great way to reach out to more kids in the Pleasant Hill community as well as DVC.”