Since 2021, Minneapolis City SC technical staff have been working closely with Lakes Area Youth Soccer Association (LAYSA) on a unique partnership to continue building soccer in the greater Brainerd area by offering guidance and resources.
Last year, the City coaching staff worked to provide foundation activities: a series of training activities that are used to train our own City players in the style of play we strive for. We held an online coaching webinar to go over those activities and answer questions from LAYSA coaches. Minneapolis City also held a LAYSA night, with free and discounted tickets to LAYSA members, and saw a lot of friendly Brainerd-area people come down to Edor Nelson Field for a City game.
This weekend, senior team manager Matt VanBenschoten and Futures coach and community engagement coordinator Brendan Doyle went to Brainerd with senior team players Joey Tawah and Bernard Assibey-Rhule to do a coaching education seminar and to lead a clinic. Over 80 players came out and had a blast in a very successful event.
There were some great coaches and players, but perhaps the real highlight was from a session with a girl named Ella who had never played before. At first, she was shy and extremely hesitant to participate. Gradually she decided to play and over the next 90 minutes she proceeded to have a blast. This was due in no small part to having two enthusiastic coaches–Joey and Bernard–there to include and encourage her. At the end of the clinic as the City crew was wrapping up, Ella came running towards then and said “Guess what! My Mom signed me up for soccer!”
Matt vanBenschoten commented, “We say that our goal as a club is to make Minnesota soccer better and I’ve always thought that’s about high level amateur players. It never occurred to me that the same goal could be accomplished by giving an 8 year old girl in Brainerd a great first experience in soccer.”The partnership with LAYSA is a shining example of the mission of Minneapolis City in action. By authentically investing our time and resources into Minnesota communities, we hope to make Minnesota soccer better.