In the beginning stages of UKSD, I was involved on the participation side. I was doing his clinics, training sessions, and playing for his teams. As I got older and more involved with looking into collegiate level sports, I became more interested in the community service aspect of UKSD.
The first projects I can remember doing were local ones. The ones that come to mind are the first soccerthons we did in Barnstable where we struggled to build a cardboard home large enough and stable enough for us to sleep in for a night. After this event, my eyes were opened to not only the local issues our own communities were facing, but the global issues dominant in countries around the world. I was eventually introduced to the abroad trips provided by UKSD.
With UKSD, I have travelled to Dominica multiple times, to England, Puerto Rico, and will soon be venturing off to Africa and potentially the Middle East in the future. The most notable trips were the service ones to Dominica.
Dominica, a small Caribbean island, was one of the most life changing experiences. The memory that pops into my mind every time is one that took place when we were driving back home one night. We had spent the day visiting the Kalinago people , an indigenous group on the island. On the drive home, we saw two boys playing with random objects in the street in front of their home.
We decided to pull over and give them a ball we had rolling around in the trunk. Words cannot describe how happy these kids looked to have a ball of their own to play with. They looked shocked even. Moments like these helped alter my perspective on life.
In my last high school years, I continued partaking in the trips, but I also flipped the switch and started being a part of the other side of UKSD, coaching. It was pretty funny to see things starting to come full circle. I helped at first with some little practices or after school programs, and eventually got to the point where I was running certain programs on my own.
On the coaching end of it, I was truly able to see the real impact that UKSD had on these kids. For some, it was the only sport they’d be able to participate in all year. For others, it was an opportunity to learn beyond just the game and to work with other kids. For others, it was a way to make friends. Seeing it on the other side, through coaching, made me want to continue to be a part of UKSD as I moved on to the next stages of my life.
When I decided to come down to Florida for college, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to fully participate. However, over the last couple of years, my relations with UKSD have only become stronger and more meaningful. As I get older and gain more life experiences, I’ve realized just how much of an impact UKSD can have on kids in this world. Most recently, I’ve been helping with the behind the scenes tasks. This spring semester, I accepted a position as the UKSD Marketing intern, and it has been great to be able to try to help the organization expand and maintain, so they can continue their efforts to help youth. Last week, we also added another Alumni in the community trip to the books, where some girls from local Cape Cod high schools came and got a tour of the school and played with the USFWCT.
Overall, it has truly been amazing and rewarding to see how full-circle UKSD has come for me. From being an active participant when I was a kid, to now helping with the behind the scenes of organization, the coaching, and becoming an “alumni in the community”, I can honestly say that UKSD has been one of the driving factors in molding me into the person I am today. As I look forward to the next stages of my life, finishing college and graduating, I know that I will always have UKSD as a huge component of who I am and who I hope to become.
Talk about a travel soccer team. You would need an atlas, a passport and a Google map to keep up with members of the Barnstable girls soccer team this off season.
During the third week of April, several team members vacationed in the Caribbean, but the trek did not consist solely of trips to the beach to lie out in the sun.
The players took part in their annual pilgrimage there to run soccer clinics, drop off school supplies and soccer equipment and work in the schools with various underprivileged children there.
“It’s all about the kids,” said Barnstable girls soccer coach Lee “Doc” Docherty. “They’re the ones who make it happen.”
Seven Barnstable students, Abby Al-Asousi, Maddie Brennan, Isabelle Bresett, Olivia Lucashensky, Brendan Murphy, Grace Walsh and Izzy Woods took part in the trip.
“We’re trying to get the kids involved and we want them to realize that in other countries there are kids just like them,” said Docherty. “We’re trying to break boundaries down. This has been six years in the making and I’d never have dreamed that it would get to this point.”
Docherty noted that a lot of team and teen bonding take place during the trip, and the same group of students want to return for the excursion next year.
In addition, Docherty will be taking other groups to needy areas in the United Kingdom, Kenya and Jordan.
While not every student is able to trek off to foreign countries, each can make a contribution with activities and events that happen locally.
Each Tuesday evening, street soccer is held at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center at the outdoor basketball courts.
“We have anywhere from 50 to 80 kids from Hyannis and each time we have a lesson of the day,” he said, noting such themes as equality and leadership, led by the Barnstable High players.
On June 9, the same group will be running their annual Food Donation Soccer Tournament at HYCC to benefit local food pantries. Since 2011, they have raised over $30,000 in food and monetary donations.
Another charity the event will benefit helps the family of Compass Athletics director Mike Pimental of Sandwich, who is battling cancer. The tournament will allow students as young as grade 3 through grade 12 to play.
“People bring food donations and each team has an entry fee to help to raise the money,” Docherty said. Donations can be made to the UKSD.org website (United Kingdom Soccer Development).
Since beginning UKSD, Docherty has used the game of soccer to educate youth about social issues such as homelessness, hunger and substance abuse, while also supplying high quality soccer training, coaching, equipment and educational items, at little or no cost to kids and teens in the Barnstable area and throughout the world.
That is what the group’s mission statement is.
“I’d much rather walk into a combat zone like the Middle East with a ball instead of a rifle,” he said. “That’s how you break down barriers and build bridges.”
Docherty continues to work to get the message out there.
Over the past eight weeks, he has been on the road. Recently he took a group to West Virginia Appalachian country, where two of the older girls got a tryout with the team from Davis and Elkins College there.
“It’s all logging and mining country there, and they have nothing,” Docherty said. “We brought equipment to them as well, and ran some clinics.”
In addition, another group went to the United Kingdom where they are sponsored by Millwall Football Club, a team in London with one of the owners originally from the Cape.
“They have a massive community with substance abuse problems and are located in an area heavily populated with gang activity,” he said of the town of Lewisham in southeast London. “We’re planning some stuff for next year to take some of our kids, and then take some of their kids back here.”
In addition, he flew to Florida to join up with soccer alumna and D-Y grad Vanessa Begley, who now goes to the University of Southern Florida.
“She set up UKSD Tampa for their inner city kids,” he said. “We went down and trained her club team and sorority girls, and they are doing down there what we’re doing up here.”
He is also planning to take his local group there in the fall to run a food donation soccer tournament there, noting the homelessness problem is very big there.
Soccer gear, school supplies and other items will soon be distributed to kids in Kenya, Jordan and Iraq.
Should Donald Trump be needing foreign policy expertise, Docherty and his players just may be the best ambassadors he could find.
“The idea is that we want kids helping kids. We’re trying to take all of the politics and the religion and other stuff out of it,” said Docherty. “At the end of the day, you’re all the same. We’re just trying to give them a global perspective and then they can make up their own minds.”
Richard, Mike. "Barnstable soccer players return from Caribbean pilgrimage" Barnstable Patriot. 04 May 2017
With the frigid temperatures plummeting recently and the first snow hitting the Cape last weekend, it’s hard to imagine the peril faced by those less fortunate who are without housing at this time of the year.
Some 35 area high school soccer players recent took part in the Sleepout Soccerthon during the weekend of December 10-11, held at Compass Athletics in Sandwich.
“We have kids spend the night in cardboard boxes and keep games of soccer going for 10 hours, to resemble a night on the streets,” explained Lee Docherty, head coach of girls soccer at Barnstable High School, who runs a soccer charity UK Soccer Development.
“Our kids raise money that helps us run all of our free of charge programming and equipment donations that we hand out to the communities that we work in,” he said.
The program, called “Kidz Play 4 Free,” provides free-of-charge year round soccer for kids in Barnstable, as well as others throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East.
In addition, the group makes yearly pilgrimages to impoverished countries, bringing supplies and soccer equipment, as well as introducing the game to the youth of those countries.
“We also use the program to educate participants about social issues such as homelessness, hunger and substance abuse,” Docherty continued.
As part of a community service project, members of the Barnstable girls team, as well as players from Sandwich, the Sturgis Charter Schools and Falmouth, took part in the nine-hour event.
“The kids bring their own cardboard boxes and sleep in them when they’re not playing soccer,” Docherty said. “They play for an hour straight and then have an hour or two off.”
Explaining that the goal, aside from raising money, is to make the players “tired, restless and uncomfortable,” Docherty said, “they may not realize it, but there are likely kids they go to high school with who are homeless. These kids are also tired, restless and uncomfortable. We use soccer as a vehicle to help them realize that.”
Docherty noted that the soccer activity was much more beneficial than having the athletes stand outside business concerns with donation cans.
“Homeless people aren’t allowed to stand on the streets and beg, so I didn’t want the kids to think that was the way to collect money,” he said.
The Soccerthon raised $3,000 and turned out to be a great experience for several of the players, many of whom have taken part in the charity for several years.
“It doesn’t give us the full experience of what a homeless person might feel, but we do get some insight into the little things,” said Barnstable junior Izzy Woods. “We didn’t have heat in the building so it was very cold and drafty, but we raised a lot of money to help.”
She noted the statistic that one in 30 people in Barnstable is homeless, which includes many of her fellow classmates at Barnstable High.
“I think that was the most eye-opening thing for me,” she added.
Maddie Brennan, another Barnstable junior who was a member of the soccer team, said the experience gave her a much richer appreciation of her own surroundings.
“We started out by building cardboard houses; they’re not very comfortable and barely functional, and really cramped with about 20 girls in it,” she explained. “It’s so difficult to sleep in such an uncomfortable place. We were inside (the soccer facility) and all bundled up in sweatshirts, and we were still complaining.”
The climate is quite different during April school vacation when the group heads to the tiny Caribbean island Dominica, where they spend the week assisting the impoverished community.
“It’s not exactly a vacation. There is trash around all the streets, but the people are super friendly,” said Brennan. “They’re all open to what you’re there for.”
The group brings soccer cleats, shin guards and socks, Band-Aids, diapers and outfits for young kids, as well as “a ton of flip flops,” she said.
Woods recalled when she went there in April, the island had recently been hit by a deadly hurricane.
“To go down there and see the devastation they lived through,” she said. “It makes you so grateful for what you have.”
The school was hit by the hurricane and many of those making the trip ventured into mud up to their hips to help clean things up. In addition, many of the roads and bridges had been destroyed.
“Still, everybody there was so happy to see us and get our help,” Woods said. “It was a difficult week and we weren’t able to shower or clean ourselves. Also, you can’t drink the water down there and the people are forced to live in shacks.”
Brennan explained one of the highlights of the trip for her was the visit to Benjamin Park to visit with a group called “the lost children.”
“They are the kids who don’t have homes or who are abandoned by their parents,” she said. “We bring them a meal, and also bring soccer balls, footballs, clothes and we play with them for a couple of hours.”
“For some of them, the meal we would bring them was the first they’d had all week,” she added.
Another trip will be planned this spring and both Woods and Brennan will be among the members of the Barnstable team making a return.
“One of the things I like best about Barnstable High School is that we have a diverse population and they’re all trying to make an impact globally,” said Docherty. “If these kids can pass the message along, then we’ve done our job.”
For further information or to make a tax deductible contribution to the charity you can visit USKD.org or email at email@example.com.
Richard, Mike. "Cape Cod Soccerthon for a great cause" Barnstable Patriot. 29 Dec 2016
The community of Pointe Michel, more particularly the youth of that village, was recently the recipient of a generous donation of sporting equipment, including jerseys, balls, and boots from UK Sports Development (UKSD).
The Organization, which is affiliated to Professional English Football Club, Millwall FC, has as its motto “Helping the Community through Soccer” and as such encompass a number of programs that target this thrust.
One such program is the UKSD’s Social Change Through Soccer Tour that benefits countries in North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.
This particular program allows for youth leaders (high school students) within the UKSD to travel to different areas of the world and work one on one with children of various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds enjoying a learning environment through sports. The UKSD leaders engage in coaching drills and also work on projects to improve local education, housing, access to water, etc based on the local needs within the targeted community.
The Pointe Michel Community and more specifically the “Pointe Michel Football Club” is now a proud beneficiary of such assistance. The Pte. Michel Football Club considers this an excellent opportunity to liaise and maintain a harmonious sporting relationship with UKSD as it seeks to develop and strengthen linkages for the development of football and more extensively the youth and the community on a whole.
The club and community would like to thank the UKSD for this kind contribution. This gesture is timely and will definitely contribute significantly to the holistic development of the young people of Pointe Michel. The club envisages future, mutually beneficial collaborations, principally through sports and community engagement, in its drive to develop strong minds and competent leaders who will one day be assets to the community and country on a whole.
For more information on the activities of UKSD in Dominica please visit facebook page UKsd Soccer Development or their website www.uskd.org.
"Pointe Michel receives sporting equipment" Dominica News Online. 23 Feb 2015
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