Korean American soccer camp helps needy communities

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YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- The volunteers and soccer camp participants are shown with the generous donations received during the charity food drive at the Seoul American High School field here, Aug. 20. The three-day long soccer camp collected 30 bags of rice, more than 300 canned food items, soccer balls and various other soccer gears. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Yi Junguk)
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- The volunteers and soccer camp participants are shown with the generous donations received during the charity food drive at the Seoul American High School field here, Aug. 20. The three-day long soccer camp collected 30 bags of rice, more than 300 canned food items, soccer balls and various other soccer gears. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Yi Junguk)

Korean American soccer camp helps needy communities

by: Pfc. Yi Junguk | .
U.S. Army | .
published: September 26, 2014

YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Local schoolchildren wrapped up a three-day Korean, American Non-Profit Soccer Charity camp for youths ages 5 to 14, here, August 18-20. The camp offered children instructional based learning for youths wanting to learn the fundamental of soccer.

"I went to the Philippines to play soccer there against a few different teams," said David Neaverth, a senior at Seoul American High School and coordinator for the camp. "It kind of gave me a first-hand experience on seeing the social class difference there."

He said that he wanted to provide that experience of playing with soccer fans from other countries to both U.S. and Korean schoolchildren in the Yongsan community.

The KANS program was not just a soccer camp; however, but also a venue for charity. The program offered the local community an opportunity to provide food donations for various communities in South Korea.

If you say [an event] is specifically for soccer, it makes [non-soccer fan] people kind of reluctant to come, but if you market it as a food drive, then others are willing to come and support, even if they don't play soccer," Neaverth said.

Through a strong connection with the local food banks, the program was designed to provide aid to orphanages and migrant workers' community. The Yongsan Catholic Knights of Columbus and Seoul American High School National Honor Society will assist in the distribution of collected donations to the selected charities.

The newly established 'food-raiser' did not only accept food -from canned goods to rice bags- but also soccer gear in serviceable condition, which will be donated to underprivileged youth of the Philippines.

"I actually know a coach who occasionally works with the Philippines' Football National team, and he's done a lot of the 'heavy lifting' in terms of finding the teams," Neaverth said. "Since it was not easy to find teams that actually need the soccer gear, instead of a team that already has funding, his aid was crucial for the program to reach as far as Philippines."

By the end of the 3-day long soccer camp, Neaverth received more donations than he ever imagined; from 30 bags of rice, more than 300 canned food items of various sizes, many soccer balls to other soccer gears. With more than 50 children who were separated into three different age groups, the soccer aspect of the drive was also a big success.

"Both me and my grandson really enjoyed it," said Zennida Ritter, a dependent to a service member in Yongsan. "If there is an opportunity to participate next year, we'll definitely be there."

The chance to conduct another soccer charity camp is the goal David's aiming to complete again next summer. "I am definitely planning on trying to run this again before I head out to college next year," Neaverth said. "But it won't be a Korean American Non Profit Soccer Camp anymore; I am talking to some people on the basketball team and we might run a basketball camp similar to that of this one and switch 'Korean American Non-profit Soccer' to 'Korean American Non-profit Sports.'"

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