E-Sports began in April 2000 with just a few families and coaches as a small, grassroots E-Soccer program in Foster City, CA, where typical children and those with special needs participate alongside each other in an inclusive environment.
Creating unique value for both typical and special needs children, E-Soccer reframes what makes a successful sports program for kids. It teaches that success is defined by making everyone in the group successful, not just individuals. For children with special needs, E-Soccer offers a unique opportunity to build lasting friendships with typical peers through inclusion. For the typical children who serve as mentors and helpers to their special needs peers, E-Soccer fills a gap in character education not often addressed in typical athletic programs or schools. The inclusive environment trains special qualities of heart and character: empathy, compassion, leadership, and selflessness.
Some of our drills require the players to rely on each other. We try to put each child in a position in which they can work on a weakness, but at the same time they can utilize their strengths. This way, both kids with special needs and typical kids learn that they need each other equally.
E-Soccer programs have now spread all across the Bay Area as well Southern Nevada and abroad in India, Kenya, the Philippines, and most recently Guam! In 2001 E-Soccer expanded to launch E-Karate programs. Then, in 2007, E-Hoops programs started which now even include sponsored, on-campus programs at University of San Francisco and St. Mary’s College, where NCAA student athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball programs volunteer regularly.
The year 2007 was also special as E-Soccer’s founder, Russ Ewell, was honored with both a Bay Area Jefferson Award and a US Congressional Citation for E-Soccer’s inclusive impact on special needs families in the community.
The newest E-Sports programs, E-Fitness and E-Dance, launched in 2015 and 2016 respectively. As kids matured into young adults over the years in their programs, the need for another phase in the development of E-Sports surfaced – teaching and motivating these young adults to live a healthy, active, and fit lifestyle on their own. E-Fitness was developed to combine a variety of stretching exercises, cardiovascular, and muscle-strengthening activities in the inclusive E-Sports setting. It provides training to teenagers and mature participants to provide an alternative to sports.
At E-Sports, all programs are dedicated to empowering children of all abilities to reach their full athletic and social potential. In the 18 years since E-Sports began, some of the participants who began as young children now help coach and lead programs around the Bay Area.
For more info on how to get involved as a volunteer or sign up your child, go to e-sports.org.