Cincinnati has proven to be an amazing soccer market. In only a few short years, the city has picked up national and international attention. While the big flashy crowds catch most of the attention, amazing soccer stories happen all the time around the Queen City.
The Cincinnati Sirens story is one of charitable giving and reaching communities through soccer. In the past two years, the Sirens have raised and donated $10,000 to local and international organizations. One hundred percent of their gate revenue is donated to a different local charity each week. The team has taken two mission trips overseas to train, help, and give. They believe soccer is its own world language and can be used to communicate and help the less fortunate. This is their story.
Before the Sirens, there was the Lady Saints, an indoor women’s team that played under the same umbrella as the men’s side. The Saints decided to move north after the arrival of FC Cincinnati, but that wouldn’t work for the women’s team. Shortly thereafter, the rights to the Sirens were sold to C925, a non-profit organization, who also manages the Cincinnati Swerve. The Sirens then joined the WPSL, the 2nd level of the US pyramid, and played their first outdoor season in 2016. “Early on it started with just camps,” said Director of Operations, Stacey Rhodis. “What we found doing these camps, is that we were building leaders while building skills. We found that often these kids would want to come back and help with the camps.” A group of women that continue to help carry on the mission of the Sirens was born out of these camps.
Jackie Esterkamp is one of the players attracted by the community outreach. First, with the Saints, she moved outdoors with the WPSL league switch. Jackie also traveled with members of the squad on their most recent trip to Brazil. The ladies first trained with a local university and were challenged by playing both men’s and women’s teams. “We got to tour the campus and learn some of the science aspects of soccer. We ended up training at Rio Olympic stadium on the old astroturf. Super hot, but a great experience. We played a gender inter-mixed squad, and it was very interesting playing with players that speak Portuguese. We couldn’t understand but it is amazing how soccer is a universal language. They would cheer for us from the opposing sidelines”
The big event of the Brazil trip was on Saturday, and they got to play a team of girls. After the game, they talked to the girls’ team and spoke about the adversity of women playing soccer. The Sirens traveled with storage bins full of soccer balls, jersey tops, shorts, shoes, and other athletic gear and passed it off to the local school and other teams they trained with. The college gave them their jersey tops as thanks for coming. The gear was greatly needed, especially the 200 soccer balls and shoes. A fifteen-year-old local girl made them all bracelets, so they would remember her. In return, the ladies pooled together to buy her brand new turfs, a gift she badly needed. Many players also left their own cleats down in Brazil to help the cause.
Jackie sums the Sirens up best when she said, “What is neat is that if I retire (from playing), I know I could help out and still be apart of this club. So many opportunities to build the club. Volunteer programs, camps that work with different age groups…Something I really enjoy.”
The Sirens play at Lakota East, consider dropping by this season and support local soccer. Check out their website – cincinnatisirens.com.
— Cincy Soccer Talk (@cincysoccertalk) January 26, 2018