Welcome to The Football Effect on NYCFC.com. Here we will regularly feature a member of our community that is helping to spread good in the city through football.
This week we feature Olga Tsoupros, a 4th grade teacher from P.S. 83 in East Harlem.
About six years ago, my principal came to me and asked me if my students would be interested in going to Randall's Island once a week for soccer. I remember that year as one of my toughest, I had fourth graders and their behavior was a little out of control to say the least. I really just wanted to say no, because the thought of taking them out of the building would escalate the way they acted, but I decided against that and told my boss, "ok I'll go".
There are many choices that I regret in my life or wish I could go back and change, but that ok was one of the best decisions I've ever made as a classroom teacher. Those students and every class after that looked forward to soccer each week. I saw their behavior change, their classwork and homework was getting done so they can attend soccer, and I also saw the way they worked together change. Soccer was a positive force in their lives.
But I didn't really know just how much until 3 years ago when I had second grade. I have had the same students since second grade and now they are in fourth grade. Since having them so long, I was able to really see what City Soccer has done for them. They have a special bond with the coaches, they play as a team, they have learned patience and honesty and respect and as one of my students says "Ms. T, soccer is my life".
Our class this year has a soccer theme, the students chose it, and we are now watching what we eat and how we can become healthier thanks to soccer. They even attend after school soccer. City Soccer is not only teaching us soccer skills, but it is showing us a better way of life.
There are not many community programs out there for students to attend, and we have been so grateful that our school was asked to be a part of this wonderful program. It has become such a strong and positive influence. My students now want to continue soccer in middle school and in high school. In today's society where students are failing and dropping out, or getting involved in negative activities due to the lack of community programs, it is truly a blessing to have City Soccer around where students can have fun, be themselves and get taught the skills they need to grow up to become strong community leaders.
From a truly appreciative teacher, Ms. T