Everybody wants to give back to the community one way or another. Some feed the homeless, help build houses, or mentor younger kids. Georgia State student Joel Apudo chooses to serve the community while doing what he loves.
“I’ve played soccer all my life,” Apudo told The Signal. “Why not share my passion with these kids?”
Apudo started playing soccer when he was 7-years-old. His career would take him through youth leagues all the way up to his high school varsity team. He wouldn’t continue to play in college, but he still plays recreationally with adult leagues. Now his soccer journey has brought him to the next phase of his career: coaching.
Every Sunday, Apudo coaches kids at the Five Points Marta Station soccer field. He takes these kids through a series of drills that improve footwork, speed, and dribbling. During the second hour of the training session, all the kids play a scrimmage game to put into action everything they learned. He has been coaching these kids for more than a year now through the Soccer in the Streets organization.
“Soccer in the Streets named me a mentor-coach for the program,” said Apudo. “Once they reached out to me about this idea, I was all for it.”
Soccer in the Streets is an organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth through soccer training, mentoring, character development and employability programs. Once they reached out to Apudo about coaching, it was a no brainer for him.
“I’ve always wanted to coach,” he said. “My dad was one of my first coaches. Throughout my soccer career, all of my coaches have been very influential in my life. One of my biggest motivators to coach is one of my previous coaches who passed away. He was very influential to me learning the game.”
Now, with the opportunity to do one of his life goals, Apudo is taking full advantage. He wants to use this opportunity to not only improve these kids’ soccer skills, but to alsogive them life skills they’ll need off the pitch.
“I want these kids to think for themselves,” said Apudo. “Thinking is an important part of soccer and life. You have to be able to make your own decisions and stand by them.”
Apudo also wants his coaching sessions to be an outlet for the kids because he knew how much of one soccer was for him.
“With coaching, I want to give these kids a solution,” said Apudo. “Whether it’s escape from their personal lives or just weekly exercise.”
Apudo hopes his coaching journey doesn’t end here either. Currently, he and the rest of Soccer in the Streets are working on putting together a youth soccer team. He hopes his amateur coaching gig will eventually lead to his first professional one.
“I would absolutely love to continue coaching in the future,” said Apudo. “Before, I never saw myself coaching professionally, but working with Soccer In The Streets has definitely opened my eyes to it.”
If you have any younger siblings or know any kids who are interested in soccer, bring them to the Five Points Marta Station Sundays at 11 A.M.
Coach Apudo will handle the rest.