Free Kids’ Soccer Clinics Promote Teamwork and Physical Fitness

(Cl) — For soccer fanatics, the sport is more than just a game, it is a way of life. For many Hispanic families, soccer — or futbol, as it’s known to the rest of the world — is the popular pastime. Presently, Hispanics represent about 12 percent of the world’s soccer aficionados. While American children grow up with a football in their hands, children from Latin cultures can often be found dribbling, passing and scoring with soccer balls in their backyards, local parks or at the beach. And parents know: soccer doesn’t discriminate by age, race or gender. Girls in pigtails are just as likely to don cleats and a jersey as their brothers or cousins. These factors make soccer a game well known for its diversity — so much like diversity of the American culture itself. Plus, it is a game that strengthens cooperation and teamwork skills; provides multiple health benefits; and offers kids of all ages a sense of accomplishment, whether they’re part of organized teams or justhaving fun in the neighborhood.

BURGER KING(R) recognizes the importance of physical activity and team sports — like soccer — as part of a child’s “daily diet.” According to researchers at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, kids who participate in organized sports do better in school, have better interpersonal skills, are more team oriented, and are generally healthier. Coaches and teachers recognize there is a correlation between good grades and playing sports. In addition, sports provide young athletes other advantages. They help children:

*Build an appreciation of personal health and fitness;

*Develop a positive self-image;

*Develop social skills with other children (teammates) and adults (coaches);

*Learn how to manage success and disappointment; and

*Respect others.

Through sports, kids learn that winning is not instantaneous. It takes practice, skills, teamwork, patience and desire. Sports are an excellent way for children to relieve stress, make friends, have fun and remain active.

Unfortunately, many urban public schools are cutting back on funding for sports. These schools, with high percentages of enrolled Hispanic students, no longer offer the physical stimulation young athletes need and desire. That’s why BURGER KING(R), through its commitment to kids, sports and the community is bringing athletics back to kids with their Celebrando Tu Futbol promotion and by sponsoring the free soccer clinics in conjunction with La Alianza de Futbol Hispano. The free clinics are open to all kids ages five to 15 and will be held in 10 cities across the country. The clinics will be led by area coaches and will feature training tips from Martin Zuniga, a former professional goalie with Chivas, a team of the Major Soccer League . He backstopped his team on their way to the Mexican championship in 1997.