Sunnyvale soccer program booms in popularity

July 13, 2011 5:43:43 PM PDT
A unique soccer program in Sunnyvale was created, because of a young high school student's desire to make a difference in his community. And now, it's expanded beyond his wildest dreams.

The game of soccer is all about teamwork, but this summer program proves one player with passion can lead many teams to victory. Akash Nigam was 15 when he had an idea to give back to his community using a sport he loves.

"I lived and breathed soccer my entire childhood. There's some underprivileged kids and at risk teens that need help and so a lot of these guys love soccer," said Nigam.

The result is a soccer camp in Sunnyvale called Kick, Lead and Dream. The two-week program is run by volunteers and free for the kids.

When Akash kicked off his plan in 2007, it was a small group. Now the fields are filled with 300 campers and 75 high school coaches, including those who have returned to bring the dream full circle.

"One quick decision, just sign a paper, come to camp, and it can change everything like it did for me ," said soccer coach Carlos Quijano.

Knowing that Nigam was in high school when he founded the soccer program is not so hard to believe. Now that he is in college, he's launching his third start up. His latest business venture is an iPhone app that will be available later this month.

"It's a revolutionary way for college students to be able to share pictures and videos with each other and selectively share with groups," said Nigam.

Nigam does come from a family of entrepreneurs. His father, Pavan Nigam, created WebMD, but his parents are most proud of their children's commitment to community. Sonia, 16, is taking over at the soccer camp where her brother left off.

"Me and my wife, our chests are just full of pride," said Pavan.

Kick, Lead and Dream is an environment where kids can be kids and not even know they're learning valuable lessons.

"Who cares who wins, it's just fun to play soccer," said camper Oscar Delrio.

When you start young, even a simple goal can score a legacy by age 19.

"I would love to see this in 20 years and I guarantee you in 20 years, that it will still be here," said Nigam.

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