When people were hit hard by the pandemic in early 2020, Alex and Caitlyn Ketover wanted to do something for the community.
They had played soccer since they were 3, and came up with the idea to collect new and gently used cleats for donation to local soccer clubs in need. The sisters put the idea on hold because of COVID until April of this year, when Alex introduced the effort as Best Foot Forward over Facebook.
“Every year, since we started playing soccer, we were fortunate to be able to get new gear, including clothes, shin guards, and cleats, so that we could play comfortably,” wrote the 15-year-old.
“We know these things are costly. We also know that in this challenging time, many families are struggling just to meet basic needs. We decided we wanted to help ease some of the burden, so that more kids could get out and play the sport we love.”
The Facebook post said the sisters would accept new and used cleats for donation to the Kensington Soccer Club in Philadelphia and Camden Youth Soccer. Though their mother Julie was unsure whether the Kensington club would accept the gift, she was reassured by one of its administrators that the program welcomes all donations, especially cleats.
“When it comes to soccer, it tends to be the more expensive piece of equipment and the most important, because if you don’t have good shoes, you can’t play soccer,” Julie said.
Between word of mouth at soccer practices and the Facebook posts, news spread quickly. The Voorhees Soccer Association partnered with the sisters to raise awareness of the Best Foot Forward effort and provide a donation site for the Memorial Day Tournament.
As cleats began coming in, Julie helped coordinate dropoff and pickups, and her daughters would help clean and tag the shoes. By the time September rolled around, they had collected 255 pairs of cleats, with 127 pairs going to Kensington and 128 going to the Camden program..
“I think it’s good to see a lot of the community help out,” Alex noted. “There’s so many people willing to donate what they can. There were people who donated old cleats, but there were also people who went out and bought new cleats. One person brought over 40 pairs in.”
Caitlyn, who is 11, shared that in time, the sisters hope to expand the project to include pug nets, soccer balls and maybe shin guards, because “as important as [cleats] are, there’s also more things you need to play soccer.”
The Kensington Soccer Club was founded in 2010 and has 750 players this year; its communications coordinator Alberto Huichapa expects about 300 more by the end of December.
Each season, Kensington players can rent the donated cleats for the season with a $5 deposit they get back upon returning them. The club offers both recreational and competitive travel soccer programs for youth ages 6 to 14, as well as programs for kids from 3 to 19. And it accepts all kinds of donations.
“ … Cleats, balls or equipment, it all helps with our mission of providing soccer.to the youth and making it all affordable and accessible to them,” Huichapa said. “When you’re a volunteer based organization, you look for all the help you can get, and when you’re donation based, it keeps growing and growing.”
To learn more about the Kensington Soccer Club, visit ttps://www.kensingtonsoccer.org/our-story. To donate cleats or other soccer equipment, message Best Foot Forward at https://www.facebook.com/AandCKetover/. .