IRVIN (SUMMER SOCCER)07.26.12
Our neighborhood projects are riddled with drugs, crime, violence, and general brokenness. It is a difficult place to grow up, especially for quiet young men. Especially for the ‘last picked on the basketball court’ kind of boy. We have some young people that are athletic and talented and will turn out to be very successful in sports. I don’t know if Irvin will be one of those players. Irvin is as skinny as a child can possibly be. He is not a fighter or loud, and this can make you an outcast in our neighborhood. (He has lived 50 yards from the center of our program, yet I didn’t meet him until our 4thyear). Irvin was maybe on course to be a video game phenom with few friends; and then soccer happened in his life. Irvin loves the game and comes to all of our clinics. He plays outside and other kids join him. Until Irvin, pick-up games only happened with football and basketball in our community.
Especially in this last year, Irvin has broken out of his shell. Soccer has been a communal equalizer in his life. He simply loves this game and it will make his life better. And the kids now know him and love him. And his passion for the game is contagious and it draws others in, bring much needed improvement. He is getting better. Much better. And it is a big piece of his identity.
I gave Irvin a pair of yellow socks about 5 months ago. He wears them to every single practice. Every single practice. He is so excited about our uniforms and shirts that are coming this month. I believe he is simply thrilled about this visible symbol of what the jersey will represent. He will be an equal. He will be the same as the others. He will be on a “team” for the first time in his life.
Irvin probably won’t win a lot of MVP trophies. He might not score winning goals and get his picture in the paper. Still, Irvin represents great things about the game and its power to connect and change and improve young lives. And he is a symbol of the impact the Kyle Korver Foundation has in our neighborhood.
Rolling a soccer ball out does not fix the wounds created by generations of social poverty. Sometimes you have to cut a hole in a wall so kids can see what’s on the other side before they will take part in tearing it down. Soccer is only a piece of that. Irvin is only one of many. But he is one that makes it all worth it when it seems the wall seems too thick and too strong to try.