What was once just an idea between two teammates, AKKA Soccer (pronounced ah-kuh) serves youth soccer players in South Jersey looking to find their passion and fine-tune their skills.
Although the official brand of AKKA Soccer was established in 2008, founders Paul Tanimae and John Jenks bring life-long passion and over 20 years of training experience to each session.
AKKA Soccer provides programs for kids of all ages at their five-thousand-square-foot facility in Hainesport, New Jersey, complete with a mezzanine area and roughly 3,700 square feet of turf training space. The substantial indoor field space, along with the trainers’ deep understanding of working with children, grants each athlete the opportunity to be the best they can be.
Whether they are three years old or in college, kids of all ages are welcome to begin their soccer careers with AKKA Soccer’s year-round training. Pre-K kids can participate in the P.A.L.S. (Playing And Loving Soccer) program and kids in kindergarten through first grade can join the AKKA Juniors Academy, both kicking off on October 1. Kids in second grade and older are invited to join the formal classes that AKKA Soccer provides.
In addition to AKKA’s formal training programs, they run 3v3 player-run pick-up games every Friday most of the year. Adult spectators are not allowed to coach their kids and instead must wait in the lobby or watch from the mezzanine. The AKKA coaches simply keep time, manage the music playlist, and monitor for any bumps or bruises that need attention. Players can take risks and try different skills on the ball, all without an adult telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
“One of the most important things is that the players leave each session with us knowing the game is theirs,” Tanimae says. “It’s not the coach’s, the parents’, or any other adult's. It is their game to pursue on their terms. When the player realizes the truth in that, then the game has real personal value, and now that player will be motivated from within to develop their game.”
After all, John and Paul grew up playing youth soccer in the 80s and 90s, when there was less adult supervision and interference. Now, they take inspiration from their childhood experiences when training players at AKKA with hopes to make a positive impact on each player they come across.
“John [Jenks] and I love this game so much,” Tanimae says. “So when we see a player come into class, I think we see a little bit of ourselves in them, or at least the possibility that if this kid isn't already in love with the game, we have a chance to impact that.”
709 E. Park Ave, Hainesport, N.J.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4.
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