Program teaches soccer to Club members

It was a cold January day, but it was also a Friday afternoon, and the youngsters at the Boys & Girls Club were getting restless.

Going outside on this wintry day wouldn’t mean basketball, as it usually does on the blacktop courts off East Main Street.

Waynesboro High School soccer players Eric Chandler and Matthew Burns were on hand to begin a new program aimed at teaching Club members the “beautiful game.”

“We’re here to expose the Boys & Girls Club to soccer, something that we grew up with, we love, to get them doing it, too. It’s a lot of fun,” said Burns, who coached one group of Club members, The Dominators, they called themselves, through a few drills before running a series of scrimmages.

Boys & Girls Club board president Tom Hardiman also serves on the board of directors of the Augusta Football Club. Hardiman asked Boys & Girls Club executive director Tyrell McElroy to cross-check the membership lists of both organizations, and found that there were only five children who were members of both.

“What we want to do long-term is help bridge that gap and get more kids at the Boys & Girls Club exposed to the game of soccer,” said Hardiman, before joining Chandler and Burns in taking part in drills and the scrimmages.

Hardiman at one point asked the group how many of them had played soccer before. A few hands went up; just as many asked if they could play basketball when they were done kicking around the soccer ball.

“We’ve still got some work to do here,” Hardiman said.

Soccer is “a great game,” he said. “It can help teach them about fitness, teamwork, leadership skills. We think it’s a good fit to bridge that gap.”

More on the Boys & Girls Club at

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