That Kid's Got Game: Boy, 9, discovers soccer passion 'fighting dementia' with late grandfather

A young soccer player has gained an increasing amount of online attention for his ability to display advanced soccer skills in a fun and engaging way, prompting a That Kid’s Got Game first.

Kodi Slater, 9, is from Telford, England, marking the first international installment since the segment’s inception. Kodi has a distinct swagger about him when he’s playing soccer, a sort of bounce in his step that radiates confidence. It’s a level of comfort or familiarity displayed by an experienced soccer player. But Kodi is a rookie. He’s been playing for just one year. 

For most of his life, Kodi trained as a kickboxer. His grandfather, a former professional boxer, was his instructor and inspiration. But dementia gained an upper hand and Kodi sat front row with his father as they made the best of the progressive disease.

“My dad’s other passion was football [American soccer] and we used his passions as activities to stimulate the brain as my dad’s dimension worsened,” said Phill Slater, Kodi’s father, adding they would often caption Kodi’s videos with “fighting dementia.” 

Kodi fell in love with soccer and began practicing every day. He wanted his grandfather to see him play with a local team. Unfortunately, his grandfather died before getting to see Kodi play with his new squad. The family was devastated. Phill Slater decided to build a soccer field in their backyard to keep fueling Kodi’s newfound treasure.  

“Finding a passion in [soccer] has been a way of turning the negatives and grief into something positive,” Slater said. 

Mobile users watch a highlight reel of Kodi here

So how did Kodi develop soccer skills so quickly?

His father credits the targets they set up when Kodi first became interested. Plus, with his kickboxing background, Kodi already demonstrated exceptional hand-eye coordination and balance, his father said. 

And it appears Kodi didn’t forget that at a base level sports are a lot of fun. Videos show him publicly “megging” unaware people on the street. If you’re not familiar, when someone is megged in soccer, it essentially means their opponent got past them by tapping the ball between his or her legs and running around them before the person notices.

“Kodi does this to me on a daily basis, especially around the house,” Slater said. “He started doing it in public and we found it funny so we started making videos.” 

The devoted young man who has produced videos with millions of views says he wants to spread anti-bully awareness with his platform and he would like to eventually become a professional athlete. For now, he’s just having fun kicking the ball around (really well).

“It’s something positive to focus on after struggling with family difficulties,” said Slater. “We didn’t expect to get the attention Kodi is receiving. It’s brilliant for him and the amazing support is encouraging him even more.”


That Kid’s Got Game was created as a fun way to display kids with standout sports skills. If you have game, or you want know someone with game, we want to see it. Visit here for information on how to submit.