Scholars in the St. Louis College Prep Soccer Club know how to have fun. They also know how to dribble, pass, and shoot a soccer ball, and that learning those skills takes time and practice.
The club, which meets every Tuesday, is led by St. Louis College Prep Executive Director Mike Malone.
“This is our third year of Soccer Club,” he said. “Some of these kids have been in here all three years and they love it. It is all they talk about.”
For other scholars, this year is their first exposure to soccer, so Malone makes sure to start every club meeting with a number of drills to teach and reinforce key fundamentals before spending the rest of the club time playing the game in the school’s gym.
“We have three objectives,” he said. “The first is that we have a lot of fun. The second is that they learn good technique and basic fundamentals, and then I want them to actually understand the game a little bit.”
Malone said the club takes advantage of bad weather days by watching a variety of soccer highlight videos.
“We will watch highlights of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo,” he said, noting that by the end of the year scholars in the club have usually picked a favorite player and frequently debate different player’s greatness. “Last summer, during our last sessions, we were able to watch some of the European Championship games.”
Malone said it was important the scholars were exposed to both playing and watching the game.
“The goal is that they appreciate the game and they leave here going, ‘You know what, I understand soccer, I like it, even though I never played it before and only did it because there was no other club to choose from,” he said.
Malone noted that as St. Louis College Prep continues to grow, he hopes the club will develop into a full soccer team.
“I think we will eventually have enough interest to build a team,” he said.