Because soccer has meant so much to him since his days spent playing it as a small boy on a street named Unity Lane in Kingston, Jamaica, Rovel Sparkes founded the My Yute Soccer Camp in Oakland three years ago for boys and girls ages six to twelve. At no cost to the players or their parents, the camp entails a week of practice and games on the Oakland Technical High School campus. It's a labor of love for Sparkes, who has traveled the world playing soccer, competed semiprofessionally, and believes that soccer doesn't just fortify bodies: Its lessons go further and deeper than that, teaching players communication skills and humility and the companionship that he savored on Unity Lane. The program's high-profile coaches are members of Africari, the East Bay-based soccer league in which Sparkes has played for ten years. Fresh fruit and whole-grain snacks augment the lessons, furthering Sparkes' vision of bodies and souls engaged in the "beautiful game."
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