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Kicking COVID: Avanade teams with the Issaquah Soccer Club to keep kids active during pandemic

  • Posted on October 5, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Bob Bruns, Avanade’s Chief Information and Security Officer, knows how critical health and wellness protocols are in 2020. As the executive leading Avanade’s response to the global pandemic, the health and well-being of Avanade’s 39,000 employees, their families and communities, are his priority.

So when he allows his daughters back onto the soccer field, you know he has thought through his decision.

Bob’s two daughters play for the Issaquah Soccer Club Gunners, a soccer organization with teams that stretch from toddler beginner-level play to adult. Soccer is a passion in Issaquah, a city near Seattle. With 2,500 to 3,000 players in the league at any one time, it’s more than a few hours of play in a week. It’s a community.

When the ISC Gunners established strong pandemic protocols earlier this year that allowed its players to safely practice, even in Washington State, where COVID-19 hit hard and early, coaches, parents and players were eager to get started.

“I think this is an outlet they need right now, with everything going on in the world,” Bob said. “It gives players a chance to focus on something positive. Having a physical activity also gets them off devices and out of the house. Most are remote schooling, and this is one of the few outlets they have that is organized in a safe way for them to exercise.”

Currently, the Gunners practice only. Games and even scrimmages must still wait. Executive Director Mark Timko and his team developed the practice protocols based on CDC and youth soccer guidelines, as well as advice from the Gunners’ own parent epidemiologist. “Our primary focus is on the health and well-being of our players,” he said.

Gunners’ teams share more than a competitive spirit and commitment to the ideals of sport. The organization works throughout the year to support community organizations, from local food banks to scholarship fundraisers and more. The team prides itself on never turning away a child because of an inability to pay league fees. This emphasis on community is why Avanade signed on as the Gunners’ premier sponsor this year.

“Our company purpose is to make a genuine human impact,” Bob said. “Given how involved the club is in the community, there are multiple opportunities for us to partner with them to give back, including volunteering time to support local organizations that truly need our help. I also think, at the broadest level, sports give our kids the right qualities and builds the right skills for them to excel in life. Teamwork, leadership, engaging with diversity, resolving conflict and building healthy relationships.”

Mark Timko says he sees the tangible difference being able to get out and practice with one’s teammates means to players. “I see the faces of our youngest players pressed to the windows of their cars as they arrive. Even with their masks on, I can see they are happy. I can see the excitement in their eyes.”

Bob’s daughters agree. Ava, 15, has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old. “I feel like practicing while other things are closed is such a privilege and so much fun, because now we have a reason to get out of the house and somewhat see people,” she said. “It’s just nice to be kind of around people again.” Olivia, 13, has been playing for eight years. “I like the competition and meeting new people. I love being on a team and on the field playing. I am glad we can continue to practice in a safe way, as I think that my team could go very far in tournaments once we get back to playing.” One thing is for sure: When play resumes, they will take the field with the entire Avanade family cheering them on.

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