One of the neatest things about attending live soccer matches is meeting some wonderful people. As an AC St. Louis season ticket holder, I’ve not only enjoyed watching a young team develop but cherish meeting so many players, their parents, coaches, staff and some great fans. One of the season ticket holders who sits nearby in Section 3 is Frank Venturella Jr. and his family. Frank has been involved in youth coaching, and his son told me a few weeks ago that they got to attend the MLS All-Star match against Manchester United in Houston last month. What a great experience for a young man and his father to share !
Recently, Frank made me aware of an organization that he is involved with, the Special Needs Soccer Association (SPENSA) in St. Louis. SPENSA is a non-profit St. Louis program for young people between ages 5 and 28 with mental or physical disabilities. SPENSA is registered through the Missouri Youth Soccer Association, which has two other Missouri-based soccer programs for Missouri disabled youth in the Kansas City (the Western Missouri Soccer League) and Springfield (Lake Country Soccer Association) areas. and is part of the nationwide TOPS (The Outreach Program for Soccer) community-based programs for disabled young people.
SPENSA in St. Louis currently provides about 125 young special needs athletes with soccer training on Saturday mornings at AB Soccer Park. There is a Fall session that begins on September 11 and lasts eight weeks, with another Spring session lasting eight to ten weeks. The organization was started more than 25 years ago by Sue Quante. It’s current president is Janet Oberle, who is also the Associate Director for Sport Administration and Compliance at St. Louis University. Shirley McBroom is the current Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator for the organization, and Kevin Byrne is the treasurer. Longtime SLU women’s soccer coach Tim Champion and his young Lady Billikens are very involved with SPENSA, as our local youth soccer clubs Kolping Kicks SC, WC Arsenal FC and Avalon FC.
SPENSA lost its major donor due to the downturn in our economy, and are in need of donations and also welcome volunteers to assist the special needs athletes in the program. All donations are tax-deductible. And as anyone knows who has assisted special need individuals, the work isn’t always easy but it’s always rewarding. Please help out these special needs athletes, sidelined with Downs Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, autism and other situations get on the pitch and get their kicks. The program is free for these athletes and their parents. Share the beautiful game !!!
Donations to SPENSA should be mailed to: