Cerebral Palsy soccer league provides avenues for young athletes to showcase their skills

It was a lofty goal: A soccer league where everyone was safe and welcome. Now, the dream of a north suburban mother and her son has become a reality.

"I remember I could not stop asking my mom about when we were going to start this program," said 15-year-old Cormac Friedlander, who has cerebral palsy.  

He and his mother, Jennifer, started a local soccer league for youth with cerebral palsy.   

"Cormac was playing soccer less and less and I asked him why and he said because he could never get the ball," Jennifer Friedlander said.  

This spring, the new league hosted its first Midwest Showcase. Kids came from as far away as Colorado and Canada to get a chance to play the game they love.  

"It's challenging to find programs for children with disabilities to be successful in," Jennifer Friedlander said.

It's a challenge 14-year-old Oliver Charfoos knows all too well. 

"I'm just like happy to be able to play the game," Oliver said. 

Oliver has double vision. The league has been a godsend for him and his family.  

"He needed peers who wanted to play as hard as he did, and to have fun while they did it," said his mom, Nichole.

The league is tailored for kids ages 7 to 17, who have cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injuries.

Right now, the team practices on Sundays at FC United's Falcon field in Glenview. They hope others see the demand and will also start their own league.

"It's also about giving these kids a chance to connect with their peers and with kids that might be experiencing the same challenges that they are," Jennifer Friedlander said.

There are 15 other CP Soccer leagues across the country. The closest Midwest team is in Cincinnati. To learn more, you can visit the CP Soccer website.