Looking out at his 250 soccer camp players last week, Akash Nigam said he never imagined this program for at-risk kids would grow so big when he and a few peers from Mountain View High started it three years ago.
Today, the "Kick, Lead and Dream" program brings police, teenage coaches and at-risk children together for two weeks to play soccer and build team and leadership skills. Camp leaders of the program, which wrapped up on June 26, hope it helps keep the players away from drugs and gangs.
Each day the young players practiced drills and scrimmaged with their coaches. Also, athletes from the San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Earthquakes came to talk about integrity and teamwork.
The free camp started in 2006 with 25 players, but now has about 50 coaches and 250 players ranging in age from 8 to 15.
"I never knew it would grow this big. We have a lot of people in this community who really care," said Nigam, who is stepping down as head counselor this year and will start college in fall 2010. "I am going to say a big good-bye. You have made a big impact in my life and hopefully I have made one in yours."
Kick, Lead and Dream was held at Cherry Chase Elementary School in Sunnyvale this year, and for the first time the camp is including Sunnyvale kids in addition to those from Mountain View and Los Altos.
The camp is a collaboration between the high school students, their parents, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and the Mountain View Police Activities League. Local agencies and community members also helped fund the camp.
During a June 26 award ceremony for players, coaches, parents and community members, Mountain View Police Chief Scott Vermeer said, "A lot of people talk, but not a lot of people walk the walk. Thank you to everyone who gave so much."