Emmanuel Sese works swiftly to interlock the white metal poles in the parking lot of Hardesty Park, pulling the net taut and propping it on the curb.
The thumps of sneakers on soccer balls and giggles of children float through humid evening air as Sese jogs across the grassy field, fidgeting with the small goals while young players dart past him.
He has gotten pretty used to this process over the past decade: the 22-year-old first began playing with Inner City Soccer when he was an 8-year-old boy who had just moved to Akron from Nigeria. Now, Sese volunteers as a coach to “give back to the program that gave me so much.”
It’s June 13, the first day of Inner City Soccer’s free summer camp: four free, weeklong sessions hosted at parks throughout the city.
Soon, these days of makeshift nets and eyeballing proper field size will be a thing of the past. After nearly 23 years of operation, the nonprofit soccer club will finally have a field to call home in Sherbondy Hill.
A vision for a diverse and accessible soccer program
When Dele Olabisi’s son first asked to play soccer, he was thrilled. Olabisi grew up playing the game back home in Nigeria, and he was ecstatic to pass his love for the sport along to his son in Akron.