Nicole Bergot-Browning and her family took a gamble when they moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city of Toronto to the smaller, more laid-back setting of Qualicum Beach.
The plan was to start a business in Qualicum Beach that caters mostly to children. The plan was met with some skepticism from friends.
“When I told my Toronto friends that I was moving to Vancouver Island to start a business teaching soccer to toddlers in Qualicum Beach, people seriously questioned my business plan,” she said. “‘Isn’t Qualicum full of retired people?’, they asked me.”
Bergot-Browning said they went ahead and made the move to Qualicum Beach last August. And in just a few weeks after they introduced Little Kickers in Qualicum Beach, she said they had 38 children enrolled, with more registering.
“I was surprised,” said Bergot-Browning. “I didn’t know what to expect. We took a chance. I felt there would be more young families moving over to the Island and that there probably would be some moms and dads that want to get their kids into something like this. And I was right.”
Little Kickers is a program that Bergot-Browning said her children experienced and loved when they were in Ontario. She didn’t really think they would be starting Little Kickers here on Vancouver Island as her husband is an engineer and she used to be a television producer.
“When we were toying with the idea of moving out west, I didn’t know what I would do because I wasn’t sure if there would be television jobs here,” she said. “I just started looking into businesses and thought of Little Kickers. I called the owner and he said they don’t have one running on Vancouver Island. And if I wanted the territory, it’s yours.”
Little Kickers is a program that teaches children soccer skills but not in the conventional and traditional way.
“We teach it in a very different way,” said Bergot-Browning. “We’re not running drills or anything. “We’re not even really playing soccer games. We teach it in a play-oriented structure. So the kids every week, we have a theme. Last week was the beach. Kids learn soccer by accident because they have a ball and they’re running around and they’re kicking the ball. We’re running them through obstacles and we have a net but we’re doing it in a very imaginative way. Where using play to teach them. And so the kids love it.”
The program caters to different age groups, from one-year-olds on up.
“Each age group is a little more progressive as far as what we’re teaching them and the different types of skills that we teach but we really just want to focus on the play and the fun for a lot of kids,” said Bergot-Browning. “For most of them this is their first introduction to sport and to team sports. We just want want it to be a really positive experience so they would want to do more of it.”