WAUKEE, Iowa -- Youth soccer has begun throughout the state and one metro program has found a way to set itself apart, but it’s not because of their kids’ skills on the field.
"The United States is one of the places soccer is not most important, but it's growing fast,” said Raul Cunarro.
With the growth of the sport in Iowa, Cunarro, a native of Spain, and his wife, a UNI graduate, created Rounded Minds to offer something different.
"All of our programs will be language immersion with another topic: Yoga, dance, music and, in this case in Waukee, we are going to do soccer,” Cunarro said.
Waukee Parks and Recreation has countless soccer programs for kids, but nothing that also teaches a second language.
"It's very important for the kids to learn at a young age to be able to be bilingual and just get more cultural awareness,” said Danae Edwards, Waukee Parks and Recreation supervisor.
Kids between the ages of 2 and 5 will enjoy the world’s most popular sport while incorporating basic Spanish words and concepts.
“We just take words out and reintroduce the Spanish word, and the kids learn naturally,” Cunarro said. "If they have to run from a yellow cone to a blue cone to a red cone, depending on what the coaches say, we just take the red, blue and yellow and replace it with rojo, azul, amarillo.”
Brittany Bailey was thrilled to have her son, Markus Bailey Jr., join the program.
“He's done soccer before, but I liked how they integrate Spanish language into it. He's been practicing numbers at home so I thought this could expand his Spanish vocabulary,” Bailey said.
Waukee's eight-week program is something everyone involved believes can have lifelong positive effects.
“Better memory, delayed dementia, increases your ability to multi-task,” Cunarro said.
It’s a concept that's already scored with the city, children and parents.
“My hope is by starting him off young and having him stick with it over time, that he will be able to be fluent by the time he goes to college,” Bailey said.
Rounded Minds and Waukee Parks and Rec will offer a five-day summer camp for soccer and Spanish again in June and August.