Posted Jun. 28, 2016 at 5:05 PM
Updated at 10:29 AM
As Milan Bobek plays with his soccer ball on the field at U.S. Cellular Community Park in the midday heat, he barely breaks a sweat. The 14-year-old has been playing soccer as long as he can remember — about 10 or 11 years.
A soon-to-be freshman at St. Mary’s School in Medford, Milan will launch his first Impact Soccer Clinic, a free one-day camp for children age 6-9, July 9. Milan has designed his own flier to spread the word and has contacted several businesses for donations. Milan’s mother, Eileen, says the community overwhelmingly has supported him in his endeavor. Rogue Valley Timbers coaches Dave Potter, Stephanie Pogue and Eisa Tia Toto volunteered to coach the camp.
Milan’s idea sprang from a religion class project last semester, which tasked students with aligning their passions or interests with a community need.
“It’s something I love and want other kids to love, as well,” he says of soccer. Unlike many of his peers’ class projects, Milan’s extended well beyond the end of the school year.
“I kind of just thought to myself, what if I actually did this?” Milan says.
He began to reach out to the community, starting with Dr. Natalya Miller, medical director at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County and a family friend of the Bobeks. The group, a charter member of the National Children’s Alliance, provides services for victims of child abuse.
Milan met with Miller and Ginny Sagal, communications and outreach coordinator for the CAC, to discuss the possibility of making his class project a reality. Over a year ago, Eileen says, Milan helped repaint some of the facility’s exam rooms and took a tour of the space. Seeing a place designated to assist in the aftermath of child abuse left a lasting impression on him.
“Child abuse is something that’s scary, in a way — unsettling that it happens,” Milan says. “To think that I’m so privileged, but I know there’s someone out there like me who … they’re unloved or hurt by their family members, it’s sad.”
Cost of the clinic is a suggested donation; proceeds will help fund the costs, with profits going directly to the CAC. So far, Milan says, 25 children are registered. While the goal is to raise money for the CAC, raising awareness of the issue is just as important.
“I plan to continue this all four years of my high school,” says Milan.
The Impact Soccer Clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 9, at US Cellular Field 11. Pizza, snacks, T-shirts and soccer balls will be provided. Those interested in signing up for the clinic can email Milan at firstname.lastname@example.org (email corrected). Space is limited to 50 children.
Reach Mail Tribune intern Hannah Golden at 541-776-4485.