Munchkins free sports set to restart this spring

The parent-led Munchkins program will be returning in Strathmore this spring to offer free soccer and t-ball opportunities for young children to participate in.

Jessica Conti has taken over facilitating the program from Denise Sobol-Geremia, who began the initiative prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I recently took it over because her kids are older and my kids are younger,” said Conti. “Essentially what it is, is we run soccer and t-ball four days of the week, it is free and drop-in and parent-led.”

Parent-led in effect means the parents of participating children will be responsible for helping with set up, take down, coaching and organizing the kids who attend.

Conti added she discovered the Munchkins program originally while looking for activities her daughter could participate in, as well as to better feel apart of the local community.

“I started my business here in town recently and (Sobol-Geremia) was giving me some ideas to connect with the community a little bit more,” said Conti. “I was also looking for something to do with my daughter and I did not love the idea of dropping her off. She does not handle that particularly well, so this was a good way to do a bit of both.”

Last year, she explained, there were over 200 registrants to take part in the program, though not everyone participated regularly.

Munchkins operates four days a week in the late afternoon, previously offering soccer programming for kids aged three to eight with no financial commitment.

Conti added there was a lot of demand from participants to add more different sports to what Munchkins is able to offer, such as t-ball being introduced for this season.

This year, Conti expects the program to continue growing, as she reported there were over 150 registrants on the first day it was made available.

“It is a bit out of pocket, and we do also accept donations from the participants, but we do not require any. When we put out registration, I just add as part of the form if anyone is interested in providing additional funding then we use that,” added Conti. “Otherwise, we pay out of pocket just for the little things like popsicles and rewards for the kids and if we need to replace soccer balls and stuff like that. Usually, we get enough donations to cover most of it.”

Conti said her goal this year is to test the waters with running more than one sport through the Munchkins program. Assuming this year goes according to plan, she may introduce one or two more next year.

Munchkins will run from May until the end of June. More information regarding the program is available via their Facebook page.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times