When looking for volunteer experience, Helal Alrashedi and Saeed Almarri landed something closer to home than they had originally anticipated. Both have spent time these past few months coaching youth soccer teams and said their love for soccer in their home country carried over into mentoring young kids.
Almarri said he was introduced to this program by his scholarship advisor in order to fulfill required community service and volunteer hours as a sponsored student. He requested something to do with soccer, because it is his favorite sport.
“The day I got a call about being a volunteer soccer coach was so exciting,” Almarri said. “I was so happy because it was an awesome opportunity. I was going to be able to take my team to compete in an official tournament.”
Volunteer experience combined with soccer was also what Alrashedi said he was looking for and he was excited to be able to work with kids. He held practices once or twice a week before the games and the games were twice a week, every Tuesday and Saturday.
“Coaching these kids was by far one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. I can’t wait to see some of the same kids next season,” Alrashedi said. “I had so much fun and I didn’t want the league to end. It was great to see all of the kids and parents have fun too.”
Almarri said it felt good to share his soccer knowledge and mix it with what the kids already knew.
“My soccer style differs a lot than American style. In general, kids and adults here are primarily dedicated to American football since it is the number one sport in the United States,” Almarri said. “They mixed a lot of real soccer play and harsh football style, so the first lesson I tried to teach my players is how to use their foot work more than their body strength.”
Two weeks before the tournament, Almarri said he taught the kids new skills that they could use, which really helped the team during the tournament. Almarri and Alrashedi both said they love how soccer is a universal sport and that the rules are the same everywhere.
Alrashedi said that some of the kids didn’t know the rules so it was fun teaching them how to play the game.
“I would suggest this program to anyone who loves soccer and wants an incredible experience helping out in the community,” Alrashedi said. “I am going to be a mentor for any student who’s interested in being a soccer coach next fall.”
Almarri is also returning to soccer coaching next year and recommends it to all students for a great volunteer experience.
“It is great getting some volunteer hours off campus. It feels more real,” Almarri said. “While on-campus volunteering might be easier, you get to work with so many different types of people in the community when you volunteer off campus. Communication, leadership and planning are all important aspects of the experience.”
If you want to get involved or want other volunteering experience on or off campus go to http://www.servicelearning.msu.edu/ for more information!