Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Ocean Stars FC

Written by: Brandi Malarkey

Longtime friends Abdikarim Ibrahim and Abdi Isaack were on a trip to Minneapolis together when they discovered they had each come up with the exact same idea on the exact same day. Enthused, the two teamed up to create Ocean Stars FC.

One of Fargo’s newest nonprofits, Ocean Stars FC aims to help kids in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area find confidence and build community through a mentorship program designed around summer soccer, providing a mentor for every four to five kids as well as resources to participate in the popular sport.

Abdikarim started helping kids participate in soccer endeavors in 2021, though it was difficult to be consistent without steady funding. In addition to field rental fees, soccer equipment like jerseys, cleats, and shin guards all require investment.

While a few kids were able to pay for their own equipment, most of the initial resources came out of pocket, or from a few local businesses, like Moonlight Grocery and Café on Main Avenue in Fargo who generously contributed.

Transportation is an additional not-so-hidden and substantial cost of running this type of program, as most kids participating neither drive nor have access to convenient transportation. While it is acknowledged that tournament travel is expensive, getting participating kids to local practices and games is also a challenge. Currently, Ocean Star relies on individual carpooling, which is not always dependable. Looking at a consistent method of transport is one of the new nonprofit’s primary hurdles.

The 18×26 Academy, which provides soccer coaching and organized training to kids in Minneapolis, has provided not only a blueprint of what is possible but also feedback and guidance to Ocean Stars as they move forward with their program. Abdikarim and Abdi hope Ocean Stars’ new nonprofit status will make it easier to gain community support, as well as obtain possible grants to help solidify and expand their program here in the FargoMoorhead-West Fargo area.

To give them a small nudge on their quest to prepare for the 2023 summer soccer season, the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation names Ocean Stars their April 2023 grantee. Their gift of $1000 will go toward getting things started for the 25 kids already signed up for the program.

“As a refugee, we face problems such as not having transportation to sporting events or resources for fees and transportation to games and practices,” Abdikarim states.

While financial costs are a necessary consideration for any sports-related endeavor, Abdikarim emphasizes that the main focus of the program is not the sport itself, but rather the one-on-one mentorship Ocean Stars strives to provide.

“I started this program because growing up I did not have guidance or resources to help me excel in the classroom and enjoy sports,” Abdikarim says.

“99% of the people in the program have been refugees. It’s important to help them enjoy the sport, build that relationship with the kids, and provide that mentoring and guidance. It’s showing them that the community is behind them and wants to help them reach their goals.”

Instagram: @o.c.stars_fc

The Cass-Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a nonprofit. Applications can be made at chapters/cassclay

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