RALEIGH, N.C.— North Carolina FC rececently won an award for almost 50 years excellence in their commitment to soccer and Wake County tourism.

The organization is well-known to many people across the country as the largest local-serving youth soccer club.

What You Need To Know

  • North Carolina FC Youth well-known to many as the nation's largest local-serving youth soccer club
  • Beyond its commitment to nurturing soccer talent, it has continually driven Raleigh's tourism sector forward

  • The organization has multiple outreach programs including TOPSoccer, a recreational sports program for children with intellectual, emotional, or physical disabilities

Ten-year-old James Kinane is one of many kids who has benefited from the program TOPSoccer.

James was diagnosed with ADHD, autism, and a rare FGFR1 genetic mutation by his childhood doctor.

“When I was a baby, um, my brain checked. The sections of my brain (were) to break, and if my head didn’t glow, I would have died,” James said.

Having a disability can cause stress for kids any age, but James said he has soccer to help.

“They just give me friends and give me something to keep my mind off of it,” James said.

NCFC Youth’s TOPSoccer program has weekly sessions with qualified coaches running skill appropriate, adapted practices for kid with disabilities like James. Each child is paired with a buddy, and James’s buddy is Kellan Healey.

Kellan has worked with James since he started to program, and has helped him break out of his shell through learning the game of soccer.

“How to kick, how to, how to dive, how to play aggressively, how to do, how to actually play well,” James said.

James’s love for soccer, this program and Kellan have helped build his confidence and skills to play on a full-pace recreational team.

James’s mom, Jill Kinane, said no matter what he’s dealing with day after day, James always wants to make it to TOPSoccer.