What does a sports organization do when COVID-19 hits? It Adapts!

This spring, L.A.C.E.S. sports programs came to a screeching halt.

Here in the United States, we had to cancel our soccer practices and games in order to keep the refugee youth in our program and their families safe. However, we quickly became very creative. 

Here are some ways we served our refugee youth and their communities in 2020:  

Let’s Keep Moving Campaign

In April, L.A.C.E.S. coaches, refugee youth, supporters and staff came together to connect and inspire each other to keep moving. Collectively we were experiencing the beginning of the global COVID – 19 crisis and as our schools closed and work from home became the new normal for many, L.A.C.E.S. launched the #LETSKEEPMOVING Campaign.

We loved showcasing the amazing people who led us, challenged us and made us laugh throughout this initiative and we are wowed by this campaign’s global impact.

The global community submitted 61 videos
that reached over 18,500 people
from 70 countries.

Submitted videos can be found on L.A.C.E.S. YouTube Channel. On our blog, you can follow through Coach Holly’s Exercise Circuits or check out L.A.C.E.S. Coaches’ videos showcasing soccer skill exercises and challenges.

Virtual Soccer Clinic for Refugee Youth

In July, with the support of a team of professional soccer players from around the world and dedicated L.A.C.E.S. coaches, we held our first Virtual Soccer Clinic!

A lot of behind the scenes work went into preparing for this event with L.A.C.E.S. staff working tirelessly up to the day of the event. Soccer balls were safely delivered to every child who needed one, and every participant had a pre-clinic virtual meeting with staff to explain how we were playing soccer together online.

At L.A.C.E.S. Virtual Soccer Clinic, 30 participants joined us, connected with a fantastic coaching team and even stayed longer after the event to chat and reconnect with friends they had not seen since entering quarantine! Needless to say the day was a success!

Partnering with International Rescue Committee’s Virtual Summer Academy

Throughout the rest of July and into August, L.A.C.E.S. led two 45 minute soccer practices twice a week during our long standing partner’s International Rescue Committee (IRC) Virtual Summer Academy.

Volunteer coaches, managed by L.A.C.E.S. Summer Intern, Sarah Kennedy, met weekly with refugee youth from  the middle school and high school groups. Through soccer exercises and a friendly scoreboard competition they got everyone moving, practicing soccer skills together and having a good time. After the first week of camp, L.A.C.E.S. surprised all the participants with a soccer ball in their weekly homework package and were excited to see them shown off at the next exercise session.

In her blog series, Sarah goes into greater detail about her work and her connection with the campers. She even tells of a time the middle schoolers showed their feet to the camera in an effort to prove they had worked hard, a moment of goofiness that ended with all laughing and smiling. Please find her series on our blog, starting with her introduction to learn about her L.A.C.E.S. journey and reflection on L.A.C.E.S. Refugee Youth’s summer programs.

Don’t forget to be on the lookout for our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up to date and see what is in store for us in the coming weeks!