How does an ex-professional soccer player spend his retirement? For Claudio Reyna, the answer is helping young children develop the same passion for soccer he had growing up.
I grew up playing the sport and it gave me so many great experiences. I wanted to provide that opportunity in areas where kids need more support, said the Mt. Kisco resident.
The Claudio Reyna Foundation is an after school program where kids, ages 6 to 12 years old can receive homework assistance from tutors and learn how to play soccer from professional coaches. Currently, the Foundation has soccer academies in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Newark, NJ.
Reyna represented the United States National Team in four World Cups from 1994 to 2006 and competed in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Last year he was also appointed the Youth Technical Director of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Reyna said that even before he hung up his jersey in 2008, his idea to build places for kids to play soccer in a nurturing environment was already in the works.
I wanted to provide an outlet for kids in urban areas to be safe, exercise, have fun and learn soccer, he said.
The program is cost-free to parents and runs from September to June. Before they can play each afternoon, the kids are required to spend a full hour on homework, which Reyna hopes sets them on a better path at an earlier age.
Reyna also points out that soccer is more popular in urban areas in Europe than in the United States where it is largely popular in suburban areas. With the Claudio Reyna Foundation, he wants to fill that void.
When he isn't working, Reyna spends time with his wife Danielle and children in Bedford Corners.