It began with a soccer coach and a quest to honor his deceased sister, niece, and nephew. With passion and a heart full of generosity Coach Bernard donated his time and money to start something special. Coach Bernard saw a need and filled it, giving the refugee and at-risk youth of the community an avenue of hope and a place to fit in.
The young athletes of Panther Elite spent hours practicing, preparing and training for the upcoming season. As word spread and the team grew, so did the demand they put on their equipment. In the face of difficult odds, the team shone through and raised an astounding 25,000 dollars in their first year and were able to acquire the equipment, uniforms, and supplies needed to reach their goals.
With the new gear and support of their community, the soccer team was able to keep up their training, and the number of players rapidly grew. By the end of their first year in existence Panther Elite had fielded nine indoor teams, two outdoor teams through partnership with Revs United creating an affordable competitive travel soccer team for the residents of Concord and the surrounding areas called Revs City, and a futsal league in association with the YMCA of Concord, NH. The athletes, their coach, and the entire community celebrated such a remarkable level of success with the team being featured on the front page of the Sunday Concord Monitor and being featured on a segment on the long running program NH Chronicle.
The team’s immense success was due in part to the unwavering dedication of their coach, who also made the team sandwiches and desserts and drove many of the players back and forth to each game, but even more the ultimate success lay in the determination and passion of the refugee and at-risk youth. By coming together, they created a culture of resilience and hope while achieving something truly remarkable- while also winning a couple of championships including the U14 Indoor Soccer Title for 2023 at Bow Fieldhouse, and the back-to-back U14 UTNA 3V3 Cup champions.
Though there is more work to be done, the success of Panther Elite serves as a testament to the power of a strong community and the strength of the human spirit.