One Person Making A Difference – Quincy Erturk’s Champions League Soccer Program Provides Children with Special Needs a Remarkable Opportunity
SOCCER IS LOVED BY ALL KIDS – Parents with children who have a disability often have to seek out resources that are not common enough to be easily accessible. Quincy Erturk developed the Champions League soccer program that combatted this issue and provided special needs children with the opportunity to enjoy soccer in a friendly and fun environment where they can learn at their own pace.
Youth Soccer News: Providing the opportunity for all children to participate in community programs involves an initiative and a passion which proves one person can make a difference — and, that there is still a lot of good is in this world.
Quincy Erturk, a 16-year-old junior at Canyon Crest Academy, came up with the idea to kick off a special program for those kids who were less fortunate — kids with special needs who she just knew would love to kick the soccer ball around. With the spirit of an entrepreneur and the passion of a world class star, Erturk was not daunted by her youth or her busy schedule with school and soccer training. Erturk launched the Champions League Soccer Program in San Diego to provide youth individuals with special needs the opportunity to enjoy soccer without the expectations that come from traditional sports leagues.
The six-week program ended last Saturday after growing initially from 13 interested soccer loving players to a total of 20 kids for the last session — with the program including players who were autistic, as well as those with down syndrome as well other special needs.
Erturk has volunteered with the special-needs Champions Baseball League organization in Carlsbad for the past four years and was inspired to develop her program — aiming to provide children with a passion for soccer with the same type of opportunity.
“I loved the atmosphere and discovered my passion at the Champions Baseball League. I have been playing soccer for more than 10 years and wanted to bring it to special-needs kids who most likely wouldn’t get the opportunity otherwise,” said Erturk.
This Southern California outreach program was co-sponsored by Cardiff Soccer – Mustangs Soccer League as well as Cal South TOPSoccer — a part of US Youth Soccer‘s TOPSoccer, the national outreach program for soccer. TOPSoccer is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any boy or girl, who has a mental or physical disability.
Cal South was very supportive of Erturk’s valiant efforts and helped provide the players with the necessary training equipment. Buddy t-shirts and player jerseys were also donated to the program.Due to the players having varying degrees of disabilities and prior soccer experience, the children were partnered with teen buddies that ran drills with and made sure the training sessions were fun and instructive.
“I love working with the kids; it is so rewarding! I paired volunteers up with special needs players, and the volunteers created incredible bonds with their players and their families,” stated Erturk.
Soccer is the world’s favorite sport and the sport inspires a common bond of a shared passion. It is also a game which can be played throughout a lifetime, and by players with special needs. U.S. Soccer has Men’s and Women’s Deaf National Soccer Teams that play internationally. Many professional players speak of ‘giving-back’ to the game — however, it is rare for a busy teenager to give so much of herself and take on the responsibility of creating a six-week series of youth soccer trainings.
“The parents were really thrilled to see their kids have fun on the field and play soccer — something a few thought they might never get to see,” said Erturk. “Everyone is so enthusiastic and the parents have really expressed their warmth and gratitude to me.”
Opportunities for kids to enjoy playing soccer, regardless of their abilities, are becoming more accessible thanks to individuals such as Erturk taking the initiative and supporting her passion of helping all children.
The Champions League has given these children the opportunity to enjoy programs that have not always been accessible on a regular basis and allow for parents to provide their kids with the resources they need.
“Parents drove their kids 45 to 60 minutes to come to our trainings! I am very grateful to everyone who helped make this possible – I really feel that they players enjoyed being here,” said Erturk who looks forward to doing the program again in Spring 2017.
US Youth Soccer’s Southern California soccer world rallied in support of Erturk. CalSouth’s Luca Pacelli, Cindy Quan and Sandy Castillo all worked together to made sure Erturk had everything else she needed.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Quincy last fall when she was just organizing her program,” said Roy Carlson, Cal South Executive Vice President. “I was immediately struck by her vision and passion and was excited by her strong desire to give back to her community. People do not realize how much is involved in starting a program from scratch but Quincy stayed on top of it and provided regular updates, ranging from designing the t-shirts and jerseys to ensuring an appropriate curriculum. It has been an absolute pleasure to help support Quincy’s Champions League.”
Erturk is an outstanding example of an individual who found a way to make a profound difference in the lives of others and she provides us with a great example — one which will hopefully motivate us all to help others and strive to fulfill our passion. Advocating for equality and supporting those who are in need of opportunities allows for our society to progress as well as brings an uplifting moment to all who participate.
Note: The Champions League will return during the Spring of 2017 as the program will continue to build upon its success and serve the community in North San Diego County.
For more information on how you can help sponsor, volunteer or participate/attend – please email Erturk.
Photo Credit: Cal South and Quincy Erturk