With support from Communities In Schools of NOVA, the International Academy Soccer Club at Francis C. Hammond Middle School had its inaugural practice in March 2016. 84 young men and women signed up to participate, with the leadership of four volunteer International Academy faculty and CIS of NOVA’s Outreach Coordinator, Candace Hill.

This startup venture was supported by a partnership with the NOVA Gang Prevention Task Force, and the Alexandria Soccer Association, with enthusiastic support from International Academy Academic Principal, Tim Brannon, and Hammond School Principal, Pierrette Hall. It originated after a discussion regarding gang prevention amongst the faculty. The consensus was that creating after school activities that the students would feel excited about was one method of reducing potential gang involvement.

Students had to meet behavior standards to participate each week, and teachers mentored students to improve the opportunity to participate. By the end of the season, the club saw an 8% improvement in participation rates, meaning, the program had positively impacted student behavior in the classroom.

The winning team advanced to the NOVA Gang Prevention Task Force Soccer Tournament organized by Alexandria City Police Detective, Joe Regotti. CIS of NOVA has provided staff, planning, partnerships, and financial support for equipment and team shirts. It is our hope to continue working with these students in the year to come in order to promote the importance of celebrating your highest potential in a community of support.