A soccer league of their own? Well, not exactly a league, but a soccer program that is affordable with a flexible schedule is what makes the Giant Pekes Soccer program of the Des Moines area so unique.
Maria Alonzo-Diaz saw the need for a soccer program that is different from other programs in the Des Moines area. She took a chance and launched the Giant Pekes Soccer Program in 2012 and since then she has been running it and even volunteering to coach boys and girls U10 team. “We created this program to keep the kids active.” she said.
“This began out of the need for flexible schedules, language accessible information, affordability for families with multiple participants, and cultural sensitivity,” she explained why she took on this responsibility of running such a program in her community. “These factors limited participation for families. We recognized the need and the potential for families to connect and grow. The only option was to create something of our own.”
Giant Pekes Soccer is a nonprofit organization and it is not affiliated with any soccer club. Giant Pekes Soccer is a year-round kind of program. Teams play outside when it is warm and once the weather turns cold and snowy the teams move to play indoors.
“Our program is conducted under a non-profit organization, Guardian Angel, Inc. We are not affiliated with any club or soccer entity. Our program is an independent, community-based, recreational initiative,” Alonzo-Diaz explained. “The purpose of our program is to promote wellness, sportsmanship, and social responsibility”
Over the years many families have participated. There were participants as young as U7-U16, but what makes this program so unique is that kids’ division is not the only focus of this program. There has been a women’s division of ladies 30-years old and older and last year during the summer/fall season for the first time the program had a division for dads’ or men’s division for males over 40-years old. Maria Alonzo-Diaz herself also participates as goalie in the women’s team. Giant Pekes Soccer is a program where all family members can participate, have fun and stay healthy through sport together.
“There isn’t a bigger satisfaction that seeing the families get together and participate on a regular basis and see how their children develop and the community dynamic that is created.” Alonzo-Diaz tells us.
Another benefit of this community dynamic is the opportunity for Alonzo-Diaz to create awareness with the parents about some of the services available from her office, the Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services where she works as a counselor.
The parents and volunteers of the program also come together to give back to the community. They created a soccer Tournament to raise funds for L.U.N.A. (Latinas Unidas Por Un Nuevo Amanecer) a Central Iowa nonprofit organization that advocates for victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.
“We created a tournament fundraiser for L.U.N.A. and we raised about $5,000 for this organization with the help of all our trainers and volunteers” Alonzo-Diaz said “and it is thanks to our platform of the soccer program that allowed us to create that tournament and raise money for a worthy organization” she added.
While the ongoing pandemic might have paused or slowed down some recreation activities, once things get better out there, sports once again will take off at full speed. Giant Pekes Soccer program will continue inviting families to come and play together and give back to their community.
If you are interested to learn more about this program feel free to contact Maria Alonzo-Diaz at (515) 669-6246. Fees to participate in this program are not set to specific cost, but rather they depend on each family’s circumstances and team.