LIMA — More than 200 soccer balls were handed out Saturday at the Safety City Soccer Field on Collett Street.
The effort to supply kids with soccer balls was organized by the Oheneba Soccer Academy of Lima.
Melody Dietz brought her grandchildren Ava and Shawn Cook to the giveaway.
Both play soccer through the YMCA program.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that this program exists and that the kids can come out here today and have some hope with the virus that they can still get outside and play and socialize and meet new friends and have some activity. It puts a little normalcy back in their childhood,” Dietz said.
The idea is to encourage the kids to stay fit and play soccer at home or at their local playground.
“When I thought about this organization, it all started with my work with the YMCA so I saw needs that needed to be met. We all have different groups of kids that are coming around, from different backgrounds and socioeconomic status. They have some disparities at home like they didn’t have the confidence. I just wanted to really mentor some of the kids in the city so that is what drove us to start this whole program,” said Edward Egham, executive director of Oheneba Soccer Academy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oheneba Soccer Academy had to cancel its annual summer soccer camp which would have taken place in mid to late July.
“We thought it would be very fulfilling to be able to raise funds and give balls to some of our wonderful kids because we realize they don’t even have some of the basic stuff for soccer. So this whole event is to give back to them. Give them soccer balls where they can practice in their own home since they can’t probably be on the field with everybody else due to the social distance,” Egham said.
Oheneba means the king’s child in the Akan language of the Ashanti tribe from Ghana, West Africa, according to the group’s website.
Jim and Janet Wend, pastors at Cornerstone Church in Lima, have provided sponsorships for the program.
“We love Edward and what Oheneba stands for. It is an incredible organization for children to get involved with, learn teamwork, learn skills, get off the streets and we just love the character traits that they’re teaching kids and just the opportunities that they’re providing,” said Janet Wend.
“We thought it was just an excellent thing they were doing. You just can’t stand by when somebody is doing something at that level. We had to get involved and pour ourselves into it because it’s just such a great thing they’re doing,” said Jim Wend.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.