Kids In Cleats
Julio Tsasse’s mission growing up was “to become someone” so that he could return to Cameroon and help his family and community. Soccer gave Julio the opportunity to leave Cameroon and have the good fortune of being trained at the AS Monaco Youth Academy. From there, Julio was able to play soccer professionally in Mali and in the United States with the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL Pro). He is now using his talent and story as a tool to show people from his village that a better life is possible if you believe in something, believe in yourself, work hard and never give up. Prior to collaborating with Erica, Julio had already begun to create and implement a plan to give back to his community.
After a family trip to South Africa and Botswana, Erica Gerstman, PhD and her husband decided their two young children were finally old enough to become involved in giving back to those less fortunate, as well as understand the meaningfulness of being good global citizens. After hearing Julio’s ideas and ongoing plans to create change in his home village, Julio and Erica began to create a comprehensive mission that they both believed in. These conversations led to the creation of Kids In Cleats, Inc.
Kids In Cleats overall mission is to use soccer as the vehicle for children to rise out of poverty through education, self-empowerment and sport in Cameroon, Africa. Through sport the goal is to engage young people and their families and help with education (yearly tuition paid for by KIC), food security (each player has at least one nutritious meal per day at the facility) and utilize our worldwide relationships with soccer training academies, Universities, and job training programs. This will provide the individual and community with the ability to break the cycle of poverty and improve the standard of living. We will have both a boys and girls’ program that will focus on empowering these young people and provide them with the tools to succeed within their social and familial environments.
The combination of proper soccer fields, a multi-purpose community center, and a coaching staff who will not only be great trainers but also mentors for our players, provides an environment that will demand and motivate excellence. Each player will be expected to meet specific educational goals and will hopefully be able to enter into secondary schools and/or specific training programs abroad once they leave our program. Last, the players will attend monthly or bi-monthly learning sessions that will focus on HIV/AIDS awareness, type 1 diabetes, safe sex practices, and various other health care issues to ensure that they make good health care decisions throughout their lives. It is our hope and belief that with these connections, resources, and hard work, each of our young athletes will be able to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and become role models for the next generation of youth in their community.