Capital FC soccer fields. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
JoAnna Fields wants all kids to be able to play soccer in Salem, no matter their ability.
“My goal to give everybody an opportunity to play on the field,” she said.
Fields is the program director for the new program at Capital Futbol Club that will offer soccer training to children and young adults who have intellectual, physical or mental disabilities.
It’s part of a nationwide program called TOPSoccer.
Fields said there aren’t many opportunities for kids with disabilities to participate in sports in the Salem area, especially soccer.
She said when she started at Capital FC in 2018, she wanted to look into creating a program for those kids.
Capital FC is a Salem-based soccer club that’s home to youth players as well as two semi-pro teams.
Its goal is to develop better people, using soccer as a vehicle to drive those improvements.
“We want to build a better community and build a connection for life,” said Fields.
Fields said the TOPSoccer program will create more inclusion at the soccer club.
The season starts on April 9 and runs eight weeks. Registration costs $80 and there are scholarships available.
Fields said she’s worked with kids with disabilities for years, including at a summer camp in high school.
The Salem-Keizer School District had nearly 7,000 students with disabilities enrolled last school year, about 18% of the student body.
Over the past year, the district has worked to expand its Unified School program, a partnership with the Special Olympics of Oregon that seeks to combine students with and without disabilities to participate in school sports and other activities.
The soccer club had planned to start the program in 2020, but it was delayed because of Covid.
Fields said soccer players with a range of abilities can all play on the same team, from kids who are hyperactive and run around the field for an hour to players in a wheelchair or walker who might need a break.
“The fun thing about soccer is it really is adaptable to every player’s needs,” she said.
Practices will be once a week and last an hour.
Players will warm up, play a mini game and train inside Capital FC’s indoor soccer facility, Salem Indoor. At the end of practice, Fields said there will be a game-like scenario.
She said they hope to have a spring season, fall season and summer and winter camps.
But playing isn’t about winning, she said.
“It’s just the fact that we have the opportunity to come play, that’s what I’m most excited about,” she said.
JoAnna Fields, program manager of Capital FC’s new soccer program for kids with disabilities. (Courtesy/ JoAnna Fields)
Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]
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