Providing opportunities for kids beyond soccer at Manayunk’s Starfinder Foundation

Starfinder Foundation, a soccer youth center located at 4015 Main St., gives underprivileged children a place to grow and learn.

Amy Rymer, who is heavily involved in the foundation as a coach, administrative assistant and program instructor, said while the foundation is centered around soccer, it also provides enrichment in other aspects of their lives.

“I think it gives them opportunities to do other things beyond soccer. It exposes them to college preparation along with health and wellness education,” Rymer said.

Rymer said children in the program consider themselves a family, which is especially important for kids who don’t necessarily get that at home.

The programs, which are free of cost, focus on bringing together youth of diverse backgrounds and giving them a place to grow in a safe environment. “The youth come from all different neighborhoods in Philadelphia. They take what they learn here and bring it back to their own individual communities. Not only does it benefit them, but it also benefits their friends and schools,” Rymer said.

Walter Buckley, the chair of the Starfinder Foundation’s Board of Directors, said programs like Starfinder Foundation are especially important right now because the public education systems in cities across the country are under duress. “The need to provide after-school programs to youth is huge as budgets are being cut in schools. It helps kids to stay off the streets and to learn key life skills and values,” Buckley said.

Rymer said that soccer is what initially attracts the youth to the program, but in reality they learn important life lessons through the programs they can use now and later in their life.

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