Soccer Gemz has a goal: Make sure every kid has a ball.
The company was founded in January to provide soccer instruction with a twist, director of operations Jerome Smalls said.
He and his wife Marchele Smalls saw a lot of youth sports programs that involved standing around and waiting for a turn, he said.
So Marchele, a former University of Tennesee soccer player, designed a “solid basics” curriculum that incorporated a variety of games and activities to keep every child moving and having fun the entire time, Jerome Smalls said.
The program, which draws players ages 18 months to 8 years from Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, New Tampa, Carrollwood and beyond, had its first two sessions sell out, he said.
To maintain a low ratio of players to instructors, each group is capped at 10 players. Instructors are required to have playing knowledge of the game, and are CPR and First Aid certified, Jerome Smalls said.
In addition to safety, keeping everyone engaged at all times is paramount. The instructors receive weekly training to keep their skills fresh, Jerome Smalls said.
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And they show up each week with something for everyone.
“We make sure every kid has a ball,” which reduces idle time, he said.
“The sessions are co-ed and non-competitive, however the children do get to play mini games at the end of each session to score more goals.”
There’s no score keeping, though. The fun is fundamental at Soccer Gemz—so much so that the last day of each session is celebrated with a “fun day,” which includes a bounce house, face painting, pizza and ice cream, Jerome Smalls said.
Sessions meet on Saturdays at Lutz Preparatory Academy, 17951 U.S. 41.
18 month- 2 years (parent/player): $105 (two groups available)
3- 5 years: $115
6-8 years: $125
Registration is under way for the Oct. 6- Nov. 17 session. Register online or call 813-421-5203.
If the sessions fill up, additional time slots may be added to accommodate more players, Jerome Smalls said.
Soccer Gemz also is hosting a special event on Aug. 25 for the community. Check out the details here.