The first library in its section of Namibia, used by tribal children and built with funds from Kickin' Back.
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 31, 2020-Kickin’ Back Ltd. is a 501c organization working to maximize the vast potential and need for sustained attention on adolescent children in underserved communities through the use of soccer as a tool for positive social and physical development. Since being formed in 2014 by Kieran McIlvenny and his wife Donna, Kickin’ Back has sent over 40,000 pieces of soccer gear and 25,000 children's books to Africa. They also sent a truck of soccer gear to Houston after the Hurricane Harvey hit there in 2017.
Photo of the Okaepe Project School in Namibia
“We believe that children will gain the skills and experience to make informed life choices both on and off the field of play through participation in soccer and life skill activities. We work to assist and connect organizations that integrate education, healthy lifestyle components and other interventions into their programming structure,” Kieran stated.
Kickin’ Back has donated gear and books to groups in Cameroon, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mexico. They’ve built two libraries in Namibia and sponsor a school for children with physical challenges in Namibia. Their current project, in teaming up with Keni Banda’s Banda Bola Sports Foundation, is helping to build a combined education center/soccer field in Chituka, Malawi that will include the first female locker room in the district.
Photo of the East Hudson Academy (in yellow) and Beekman Warriors (in black) at the Shamrock Shootout
Both the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) and East Hudson Youth Soccer League (EHYSL) enthusiastically support Kickin’ Back. Eastern New York funded the last container that went to Malawi with another container scheduled to go there in June. Both Eastern New York and East Hudson have donated gear for that shipment.
Kickin’ Back receives donations from East Hudson clubs, local colleges as well as individuals. It also received funding from the 6th Annual Shamrock Shootout, that was played on March 7 and 8 at The Net at Gold’s Gym in LaGrange and featured 47 teams from East Hudson. The next week, games were shut down in Eastern New York because of the coronavirus outbreak. 30 referees and ref mentors volunteered their time as $16,000 was raised for Kickin’ Back from the tournament and nearly $140,000 from the tourney’s six years.
With approximately 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with nine leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.
Photo of refs and mentors at the Shamrock Shootout with Kickin' Back co-founder Kieran McIlvenny on far left