When about 50 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana hopped off the bus Tuesday afternoon, Louisville City FC player Enrique Montano’s goals for them were simple.
“Have fun,” he said, “and don’t grab the ball with your hands.”
The latter often proved difficult for a group of children that included a number of first-time soccer players. But smiles certainly weren’t lacking at LouCity’s training ground, where club partner Humana sponsored a two-hour clinic for kids from the Shawnee Boys and Girls Club.
Kids grouped up by to run through drills before breaking out into scrimmages. LouCity assistant coach Daniel Byrd led the event with help from Montano and a handful of his teammates.
“A lot of them maybe have never gotten to play the game,” said goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, who coached the oldest players on the pitch. “They were just introduced to the game today, so getting to see them touch the ball for the first time and play the game for the first time really does bring me back to when I was a youth player playing in a rec center.”
“It definitely brings back memories,” added Montano, who oversaw a group of younger children that nicknamed him “Mr. Giggles.” Laughs were aplenty.
On Wednesday, LouCity players will welcome a group from the Parkland Boys and Girls Club for another clinic.
“Getting out and about is definitely refreshing for the kids,” said Kelly Luckett, program director at Shawnee. “It’s also an experience. I’ve been there two and a half years, and it’s something we’ve never done before. It exposed a lot of the kids to soccer who had never played before. We saw some natural talent out here, so we might have some future soccer stars.”
Kids wound down with slices of pizza donated by Papa John’s and walked away with a free LouCity shirt — not a bad afternoon, and one that left Ranjitsingh joking that LouCity coach James O’Connor should order some slices after the club’s training sessions.
“It seems like they enjoyed it,” Montano said of the clinic, “and we definitely enjoyed having them here.”