For Jonny Manousaridis soccer has always been his life, it is not just a game. He always wanted to do something special for the world and that is why he became part of Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) ever since he was ten. SOMA “provides year-round sports training, athletic competition and other health-related programming for athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state.” Jonny Manousaridis is a soccer captain at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) and he is dedicated to help the kids, at least once a week, on Saturdays. He coaches many children, kindergartners to fifth-graders and is happy to see the kids discovering success on the field, thus offering them a little joy. He said that “SOMA has given me a consistent place to volunteer and a consistent source of happiness as well” His main goal is to make sure the children are having fun and are enjoying the sport he’s in love with: soccer.
Being a player ever since he was a little kid, he says “I’ve had trouble throughout my life and found that the soccer field is a place where I can be happy and do something productive.”
The kids’ parents are equally happy and they say that “Coach Jonny’s spirited enthusiasm is contagious” or that “Jonny’s coaching has renewed my son’s enthusiasm in sports. He gave up on soccer a long time ago – but he is now really enjoying being active!”
Even though the team can’t play official games because of the diversity of the little sportsmen, Jonny Manousaridi still makes efforts to plan recreational games with local teams. They are not part of the Southborough Youth Soccer Association, but the program gives them field time and uniforms.
If Manousaridis’ dream was to do something special, now he is doing it. He confesses that SOMA soccer program is a big part of his life. He is happy when he “can give back to the community in any way, shape or form”. And obviously he is proud of what he’s doing, and the work with the kids also brings him a lot of joy. “Coming out every Saturday to play soccer with these amazing athletes truly is the highlight of my week,” he says.