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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Soccer team sponsors special needs sports clinic

Published: October 16, 2014
Section: Front Page, News

The Brandeis soccer teams are collaborating to host a free soccer clinic for special ability athletes on Saturday, Oct. 25. The event will take place on the varsity fields. Any child over age four with a physical or cognitive disability is invited to participate.

At the clinic, each child will be paired with a Brandeis varsity soccer player who, throughout the day, will act as a mentor and provide one-on-one soccer lessons. The children will be divided by age group, so three different clinics will occur simultaneously. The kids will work on passing, shooting and footwork before coming together for a scrimmage at the end. A DJ and costumed characters will be on the varsity fields to entertain participants while they play. Following the clinic, Sodexo will sponsor a luncheon.

Ed Connerty, a manager at Sherman Dining Hall, organized the event. Connerty is a retired special education teacher who has organized similar events in the past. He chose to host this event at Brandeis because of how much volunteer work he has seen across the Brandeis community.

Connerty habitually plans sporting events for children with disabilities who aren’t able to participate in town sports so that they can have a chance to play. “It’s a day for them to experience soccer in a way they may never have experienced before and may not have thought they could experience ever,” Connerty said. In the past, up to 200 people have participated in his programs, a number that increases each time.

When Connerty suggested the clinic to Michael Coven, head coach of the men’s soccer team, Coven was happy to get his players involved. “My players and I are very fortunate, and other people are not so blessed, so we would like to take time to help those people,” explained Coven. The athletes will be able to continue their community involvement, while playing soccer.

Connerty’s ultimate goal is for the special ability athletes, their parents and the volunteers to simply have fun. He strongly believes in his mission to bring sports programs to as many children with special needs as possible and hopes that people will come to the varsity soccer fields to volunteer at the event. “I want kids to learn early how to give back. It will feel good for your community, and it will feel good for yourself.” he said. Eventually, the intention is to expand this program to a regular weekend program in Waltham.

This clinic will take place from 9 to 11 a.m., with the lunch reception to follow. For more information, contact