October 18, 2022 – To the young boys of Northtowne Elementary School, soccer means more than a pick-up game played during recess. Soccer provides an outlet for them to find their education more relevant, rewarding, and rigorous while building friendships and community.
“Soccer is big here,” said Principal Austin Taylor. “We have Girls on the Run, and the boys asked me for a program specifically for them. That’s where Final Third Foundation comes in.”
Final Third Foundation (F3 Foundation) is in the business of leveling the playing field on and off the pitch. Founder and Executive Director Benjamin Levey believes that “soccer can be an equalizer across communities and a catalyst to build a better generation.”
Led by F3 Program Managers, the F3 Soccer & Literacy program seeks to generate excitement for reading and writing outside of the classroom. In addition, the students are taught the fundamentals of the sport through drills and scrimmage play.
Students take the soccer skills they have learned and apply them by reading through the Jamie Johnson soccer novel series. The series introduces the reader to a boy who lives and breathes soccer and the life lessons learned from his journey of becoming a soccer star.
“The book covers everything from bullying, cultural awareness, and social-emotional development,” Principal Taylor said, “They read about Jamie, who is from a different country pursuing a sport that they are learning and playing. It’s a coming-of-age story that they can relate to.”
This fall F3 Foundation hosts programs in six schools within the District, including:
“It’s amazing how diverse Columbus is. You don’t realize it until you walk into some of these schools,” said Levey, who grew up in Bexley.
“This is a real-life experience that is going to help them become better individuals,” Principal Taylor said. “Whether it’s through athletics or academics, those two avenues are going to push them to do positive things, and that’s what we want our graduates to be.”
The soccer and literacy program is set to take place across the fall and spring semesters. Each semester will cover the next book in the soccer series and anew range of skills to produce well-rounded student-athletes.