When James Brown decided to build a simple kick wall for his son five years ago, he had no idea how much mileage that wall would get both in the driveway of his Lititz, Pa. home and on the internet, where videos and plans for the wall he’s shared have captured the attention of the soccer community across the country.
“The response has been, you know, beyond my wildest imagination of what would happen when I started doing it,” Brown said in a recent phone interview. “I mean, I really didn’t have that many social media followers when I started, it was just kind of promoting to say, hey, look, you know, I think this is a good idea. And it kind of just, it just took off from there. So I think maybe four or five videos I posted of my son using it have received about three or 400,000 views on Twitter.”
Brown estimates that he has received some 4,000 direct messages on his @24x7soccerus Twitter account from people asking for the simple plan he came up with to build a wall with about $40 worth of materials.
“There’s been hundreds and hundreds of posts of people building the walls and then posting photos and videos of them on social media,” Brown said.
Let's do this. A ball and a wall challenge. Post a picture or video of you and a ball and a wall. A side of a building, a couch, garage, homemade wall, etc. If you need free plans for an easy to build kick wall, check out https://t.co/qIS9CXrTRF. Post using #aballandawall pic.twitter.com/xNiA4zRz9O— James (@24x7soccerus) March 22, 2020
Lately, there’s been an uptick with so many families quarantined in their homes during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak that has shuttered schools and postponed soccer at every level.
Brown recently launched a website at www.kickwalls.com and had his initiative featured in Soccer America. John Adair, the director of coaching at Buckingham United, also mentioned it in a recent article with resources for soccer at home here on Brotherly Game.
“I didn’t set out to say this is a new or novel approach, just something that been tried and tested throughout time,” he said. “Some of the best players in the world talk about using a wall growing up. And so I think it’s just as soccer’s expanded and there’s other parents and kids who, you know, this is the first time dealing with soccer, I think it’s exposing another way to get touches into your technical ability. It’s the right size, it’s easy enough to build, it’s cheap enough, that it’s just kind of touched a nerve in a positive way.”
Among those who have taken notice of Brown’s efforts is Chris Kessell, a coach and club president for West Side Soccer Club in Charleston, West Virginia.
“The hard work that he has put in to help create this organic movement has been amazing to witness,” said Kessell, an outspoken advocate for reform in U.S. Soccer who regularly shares ideas online about how to increase access to the game. “Helping parents understand how a simple project and activity like this can improve young players is so important. He has done a wonderful service to the soccer community by taking this selfless project on.”
My wife asked me to cover our basement stairwell so our daughter wouldn’t fall in (she’s our climber) so I covered it with a kick wall. pic.twitter.com/MhTyLtpzBZ— Matt Ralph (@MattRalph_tBG) June 4, 2019
Brown estimates that son Jack Brown, a standout midfielder for the PA Classics U14 Development Academy team, has put in thousands of hours with the wall over the past five years.
“We have a vinyl siding home so it’s not like he’s gonna kick the ball into our house and we don’t have a concrete wall in the basement,” Brown said. “I think from his perspective, he can see the benefits of it and with the amount of time he’s spent doing it, he can see that it’s paid off.”
While a lot of the people who have reached out to James and have posted photos of their walls, he’s also heard from some clubs that have used the plans.
“It’s not just soccer dads or soccer moms, we’re starting to see clubs that are promoting it and that’s really cool to see as well,” he said.