Fun Bunch was created in the fall of 2011 by Gena and Brian Mitchell. Their daughter, Devin, who happens to have Down syndrome, spent many a day on the sidelines watching her sisters play soccer and would frequently ask, “When is my game? When is my practice?” Having played sports as children and young adults themselves, Gena and Brian knew the benefits to a child of being on a team. They searched for a team or program that would provide Devin the same sense of belonging, teamwork, and fun that their other daughters enjoyed. When they could not find any such program for Devin, they created Fun Bunch, starting with 5 players in the fall of 2011. With each fall season the roster grew, and with the expansion of their first spring season in 2016, the roster reached an all time high of fifty-two. Additionally, in 2016, a second team was formed in Prince George’s County, with a roster of twenty-three players.
The success of Fun Bunch has been a family affair for the Mitchell’s, and is a collaborative project with their community. Little Flower Church & School has donated the use of their turf field and equipment since the inception of Fun Bunch in 2011. Little Flower’s generosity has been critical in allowing complete accessibility to all of Fun Bunch’s players with physical challenges. The Mitchell’s purchased tents and team benches along with additional equipment needed while a significant donation of jerseys, cleats and balls by Rockville Soccer completed the outfitting of the first Fun Bunch team in the fall of 2015. The final gift of time by our countless volunteer buddies and parent coaches throughout the eight week season has made for an inspired community. This includes a volunteer, who has a sibling on the team, who chose Fun Bunch as his Mitzvah project to raise money to hire coaches. With his donation, Fun Bunch was able to begin a perfectly aligned partnership in 2016 with Player Progression Academy (PPA).
This soccer league for children with special needs is driven by the belief that ALL children, those with and without disabilities, need a place to belong- something to be a part of. These kids are given the opportunity to find their niche and to ultimately flourish with practice, competition, and friendship with teammates. Going to a class or taking a clinic is not the same as being on a team. Fun Bunch is built on the foundation of teamwork; it is a team of soccer players who happen to have developmental differences. Identifying with your peers and teammates is a powerful thing in regards to the development of a child. We all know this, and it is time for children with differences to have that same opportunity. #funbunchsoccer
Fun Bunch Soccer is a program of Devenio, inc. a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to creating and launching collaborative projects to support inspired community building for people with disabilities and their communities at large.