NASHVILLE – Soccer is a game that can bring people together and inspire future generations to dream big.
That’s precisely why the West Nashville Dream Center was delighted to bring along kids and volunteers from their programs to take in Nashville SC’s match against Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday night in Section 615. The Dream Center aims to improve the safety and quality of life of an under-resourced community in West Nashville and surrounding neighborhoods.
That work includes helping families that live in underserved communities secure enough food to eat, providing community programming for kids and parents, including summer programs for kids and single mom groups, and also special outings like Saturday night’s Nashville SC match. Seeing professional athletes that play in their backyard can make a tremendous impact on kids.
“It is great for them to feel like they’re part of the Nashville community, and the other thing is we’re always trying to inspire kids to believe that they can do more than they’re being told,” said TJ Fletcher, Executive Director of the West Nashville Dream Center. “And so when they come in their own city and they see their own soccer team playing, I just think it will be a lot more impactful this weekend when they’re out playing soccer with our volunteers or their friends.”
Many of the children that attended Saturday’s match otherwise might not have ever gotten to attend a professional sports game. The simple ability to experience something like a Nashville SC match can go a long way towards opening the world to families in crisis.
“It’s super important to us for our kids and their families to experience things they wouldn’t normally experience,” Fletcher said. “Because often times people that are living in crisis don’t realize that there’s so much more out there, and so they stay in crisis. So we like to expose people to new things that are completely outside of their world, to inspire them to do more with their lives.”
For Fletcher, who helps to guide families through all of the trials and tribulations of life, seeing a group of kids coming out of their shells for a night and having fun is something very special.
“It’s pretty amazing because I also see their day to day lives,” she said. “The kind of work that we do, I see everything. I see it when they’re down and I see it when they’re up. And so when you see a child get to experience something that they wouldn’t normally get to experience, but you also know how hard it’s been in their regular life, it’s pretty powerful.”