As a Board Member for Jackson Area Wide Soccer (JAWS) who also serves on the Community Advisory Board for his regional division of The Salvation Army, Cesar Quispe is highly ingrained in the local community around Jackson, Tennessee. His love for the game of soccer, along with his selfless attitude, recently led Quispe to merge both of those elements into the creation of the East Jackson Soccer Clinics. The idea of the project came to him last year while the 2022 FIFA World Cup was being played in Qatar.
Quispe is the CEO of March Marketing Agency, which is a full-service marketing firm that covers the State of Tennessee. During the FIFA World Cup last year, his staff got a full glimpse at one of his key passions outside of the office.
“Over the first couple of rounds, people around my building started to hear someone screaming when they walked past my office,” laughed Quispe. “I have a 65-inch TV with surround sound in my office, and I was watching the World Cup like a little kid. Right around this time, we were shooting a big commercial with The Salvation Army for their end-of-year campaign. The lieutenant over The Salvation Army in Tennessee happens to swing by my office when we are watching the World Cup, and that is when the idea begins to happen.”
Qusipe had a discussion with the lieutenant about the fact that many inner-city kids do not have access to play soccer. The conversation then quickly shifted to how they could introduce the game to more underserved communities. Quispe made an initial donation to get the concept started, and he then contacted a local sporting goods store that allowed him to purchase equipment for the program at cost. With those important items now in possession, the next phase of planning could be implemented.
“Before we even hosted our first session, we held an important meeting with our partners from The Salvation Army,” recalled Quispe. “One of the reasons why this partnership was so important was because The Salvation Army has sweat equity in the inner-city communities. Some kids get their Christmas presents from them, some families visit their food bank or open kitchens, and some kids receive tutoring there. These kids were already having a lot of interactions with The Salvation Army. We knew that as outsiders, we would never be able to impact them as much we wanted if we went about this independently.”
When the time came to host the first free session of the initial eight-week program, Quispe realized that there was still more work that needed to be done.
“As we began our first session, I heard someone say that two or three kids walked a mile to get to the practice session,” he stated. “We spoke to our partners at The Salvation Army, and they immediately offered to help with the transportation for these kids, not only for their convenience but more importantly for their safety.”
In terms of the soccer training, Quispe leaned on the coaching staff at Jackson Area Wide Soccer (JAWS) to help run the sessions.
“We have some volunteers from JAWS who are helping out with the coaching,” confirmed Quispe. “They are volunteering their time because they want to do everything they can to support this program.”
While this has only been the start for the East Jackson Soccer Clinics, Quispe says that he has been incredibly impressed and humbled by the results of the program so far.
“We have seen as many as 19 kids come out for one of our sessions,” he said proudly. “At one session, there was a situation where a kid was about to score, and then one of the other kids comes sliding across and makes a last-second save at the goal line. That is the kind of stuff you cannot teach. These kids already have heart and determination inside of their blood. It just feels amazing to watch them grow throughout the course of this program.”
Before finishing our discussion with Quispe, we asked him what his favorite part of this experience has been.
“My favorite part about this program is that I believe these kids will fall in love with soccer,” he affirmed. “I believe they are great athletes, and one of these days we may see these kids playing a high school game, or maybe even further than that. Knowing that we are planting a seed today that could positively impact their lives means the world to me. Our goal is to double, even triple, the numbers enrolled in this program as soon as possible. We want to see 150 kids from the inner-city out there enjoying the game of soccer one day. We are just so thrilled about this program, and our ultimate goal is to simply help these kids grow. The mission of Jackson Area Wide Soccer is to introduce the game to as many kids as possible, and this program is truly supporting that initiative.”
If you would like to make a donation to support the East Jackson Soccer Clinics, please contact Jackson Area Wide Soccer by calling (731) 425-8378.