Student-Athlete Spotlight: Southern New Hampshire's Jordan Branco Serves Community – One Ball at a Time
For Immediate Release
November 4, 2011
Courtesy of the So. New Hampshire Athletics Communications Staff
Manchester, N.H. - Junior Jordan Branco of the Southern New Hampshire University men's soccer team has made a huge impact on the field for the Penmen this season. Off the field, he's trying to make the same impact through a program he's penned "Kicks for Kids."
Coming from Brockton, an inner-city suburb of Boston, Branco has seen his fair share of poverty. "If you were the kid with the soccer ball growing up, you were the one everyone called. A soccer ball was not something everyone could afford," Branco recalls.
So this summer, Branco felt the need to help those less fortunate than him. Branco and his father both worked at a summer soccer camp and called out to campers, family, and friends to donate old soccer balls they had lying around the house.
"Some people would bring a new ball in the package still—they had gone out and purchased it for this cause. Other people would bring four or five used balls that had been sitting in their basement. It was amazing to see the support we received."
The balls he collected went to Kenya with his cousin, Marina Wurl, who was volunteering her time as a pharmacist. The children in Kenya loved the donation, and their appreciation and joy was noticed by Wurl and her colleagues. Before Branco's soccer balls arrived, the children had been playing soccer with a tied-up ball of string.
After returning to school this fall for his junior year, Branco learned that his friend Corinna DaCruz was volunteering at an after-school program for Sudanese refugee children in Manchester as part of her work study position with the Service Learning department. She mentioned to him that the children loved to play soccer—but that the program had no funding to purchase equipment for them.
It was then that Branco decided to organize a second donation drive—this time to benefit the local community.
Branco recently asked fans at So. New Hampshire to bring new or used balls to donate to the children of Manchester. Jordan's organization helped collected 107 soccer balls and 10 pairs of cleats. When all is said and done, he hopes to collect enough balls to properly outfit the Manchester organization and any additional balls collected will go to children in South Africa with the school's Alternative Spring Break program in March.
Branco concludes, "I don't want to set expectations because I don't want to get disappointed. But I would like to collect a lot of balls."