It was little kids vs. the big kids in a game of soccer. Then it was big kids vs. the little kids. Then, it was the big kids and the little kids against the world.
Every weekend at Dideriksen Park, older members of the East Brunswick Soccer Club put on their uniforms and head to the fields to work with younger kids to improve their game, serve as role models and have a lot of fun.
“I think that the older kids, they like helping these kids out and seeing them trying to do some of the drills,” said Dean Bierman, who organizes the weekly mentoring program. “They like stepping in and correcting some of the things they might be doing wrong and they like to be around these young kids. It’s almost like they’re flashing back and seeing themselves.”
Bierman said he remembers the program from when his now older children were involved in the club. Now that he has he has a new youngster playing soccer, he thought it would be a great opportunity to help the club organize it weekly.
“It’s gone through some phases and used to be something that was more volunteer, with a coach saying, ‘I want to bring some of my older kids to work with my younger kids,' ” he said. “I just remember how beneficial it was for younger kids. They love having the older kids there. They love showing them what they can do. It’s almost like having a big brother and sister there.”
While mentors are typically taken from the club’s travel teams, Bierman said any older player can volunteer to be a mentor.