Kids need positive role models and support when being introduced to sports. As an athlete on the women’s track team at USF, the supportive coaches who encouraged me along the way are the reason I have maintained a passion for running. When kids do not have the same kind of support and encouragement upon being introduced to sports, they often lose the motivation to keep playing.
“It really only takes one moment for a child to lose their interest in a sport, but vice versa it only takes one experience for that kid to become motivated and passionate about something,” Village Sports founder Alejandro Munoz said.
Village Sports is a company that welcomes USF student-athletes, especially those from outside the Bay Area, to take on coaching positions in the city to foster community connections. They coach using techniques they learned when getting to know the fundamentals of their sport that eventually led them to the collegiate level.
Munoz emphasized how Village Sports’ programs are driven by individualized training and efficient communication with kids, focused on helping them grow not only as athletes but as people.
“Village Sports is an opportunity for student athletes to earn a steady income while putting their skills into practice as athletes,” said senior Zoe Wassell, a member of the USF track team and running coach for Village Sports. “I like that I can make an income while coaching kids in a sport I love.”
In June 2021, the National Collegiate Athletes Association introduced a “Name, Images, and Likeness” policy that allowed student athletes to benefit from their platform through creating a personal brand. Village Sports helps USF athletes use their skills to earn a profit through coaching.
“I call it an opportunity,” Munoz said. “Village sports is a socially responsible coaching platform created to connect student athletes with kids to help them improve their game, while giving back to the community.”
The organization is currently offering a basketball clinic hosted by juniors Justin Bieker, Isaiah Hawthorne, and Josh Kunen. They will begin a soccer clinic at Negoesco Stadium led by sophomore Marrisa Vasquez, freshman Rodrigo Bueno, and alumni Shayan Charalaghi on Mar. 27. Individualized programs are also offered by athletes in the men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, cross country and track, as well as men’s tennis. “Every coach is going to bring something different because we all come from different backgrounds,” Munoz said.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Munoz played soccer his entire life, receiving his undergrad in business management along with his masters in entrepreneurship from USF. He is currently a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s soccer team at USF, the JV soccer head coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, and a goalkeeper coach at the San Francisco Elite Academy.
According to Munoz, the San Francisco Unified School District lacks sports-related enrichment programs. He is working with Village Sports to create more after-school programs at elementary and middle schools located near USF.
A 2016 article from the Washington Post discusses the unhealthy relationship between a child’s passion for a sport and a culture that emphasizes success over love for the sport, discouraging kids from continuing to play just for fun.
Cost can be another huge barrier for those who would like to compete. A survey conducted in May 2020 showed that 56% of participants agreed they would be more likely to enroll their child in youth sports programs if the cost was partially subsidized by the government. Many factors such as league fees, equipment and training costs, and travel expenses prevent kids from participating in sports. Because of this, participation rates in the U.S. have dramatically declined, especially for kids from lower-income families.
Motivated by the idea that socioeconomic status should never hinder a child from participating in sports, Village Sports created the Village Sports Fund, which works towards training underprivileged kids at a reduced cost. Funded by a portion of the earnings of the sporting clinics and private training sessions by USF students, this additional program has been able to provide free training and support to 20-30 kids.
Village Sports was built on the aim to create a more inclusive environment where young kids can learn valuable skills through positive mentorship and coaching. “Village Sports has been such a cool experience,” Vasquez said. “I get to use my skill and love for soccer to help kids develop skills that translate into their games and training.”