Posts tagged with "Major League Soccer"

Kicking a Soccer Ball illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

U.S. Soccer Foundation – 300 Mini-Pitches

300 Mini-Pitches from the U.S. Soccer Foundation Bring Soccer to Underserved Communities Research shows youth sports improve physical and mental health as well as academic performance in communities hit hardest by COVID-19 July 27, 2020 U.S. Soccer Foundation As a traumatic pandemic continues to grip much of America, particularly communities of color, efforts are underway to ensure that children and families across the country have positive recreational opportunities to look forward to when they return to school and play. 

The U.S. Soccer Foundation, with the support of its partners, this week reached an important milestone with the installation of the 300th mini-pitch in underserved communities nationwide since 2015. Through a collaborative effort with local governments, youth organizations, school districts, and companies of all sizes, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has continued installing mini-pitches during the pandemic, fulfilling a long-term commitment to children living in underserved communities. 

These communities are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and will be the slowest to recover, which underscores the importance of these investments. “The trauma that young people in underserved communities face from this pandemic, from the loss of lives to family member’s loss of jobs to the closure of schools and community centers, has been profound,” U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon said. 

“This is an unprecedented escalation in the already challenging circumstances that young people live with, day after day.” “The U.S. Soccer Foundation and our partners are sending a very real message to young people and their families through these projects: We are here for you. We continue to ensure that when communities are ready, more mini-pitches will be there for play.” The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mini-pitch initiative is responding to a significant challenge faced by youth in underserved communities—a critical shortage of safe places to play.

Since 2015, the Foundation has worked with partners to install mini-pitches in more than 200 communities across the United States and more mini-pitches are on the way. The Foundation plans to install more than 100 in the next year, with a goal of creating a total of 1,000 mini-pitches coast to coast by 2026. With safe surfaces and high-quality lighting, these mini-pitches serve as an ideal place for both pick-up games and free play, as well as high-quality programming, including the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program. 

Mini-pitches fit into urban environments or other areas where space is at a premium, providing a safe place for kids to play and for community members to gather right in their neighborhoods. Corporations including Target, Adidas, and Major League Soccer and its clubs are national partners in this initiative and have partnered with the Foundation on hundreds of mini-pitches to date. Last September, Musco Lighting partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to update the mini-pitch with a new modular system including lights, fencing, and goals. On average, these lighted mini-pitches add 2.75 hours of playing time per day on each pitch. 

Although participation in youth sports is associated with better health and academic achievement, more than 80 percent of children living in households making less than $25,000 miss out on the benefits of team sports. Furthermore, one in three Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk from home, leaving too many kids without access to a soccer program or safe place for free play. To address these barriers, the Foundation and its partners have committed to increasing access to quality youth development programming and creating 1,000 new mini-pitches nationwide. In addition to providing access, the creation of mini-pitches has lasting community benefits: 98% of communities report that the people in their community are more active and feel safer with the addition of a mini-pitch. 

Further, soccer mini-pitches serve as neighborhood gathering places for families, and nearly one-third of the kids who come to play on them are new to soccer. To learn more about the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s work to make soccer everyone’s game, visit itseveryonesgame.org

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.

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U.S. Soccer Foundation’s “It’s Everyone’s Game!” 25th Anniversary Celebration

Nearly 500 supporters of the U.S. Soccer Foundation came together at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles – on the pitch of Major League Soccer’s LAFC – Monday evening to commemorate the organization’s achievements of growing the game and providing youth recreation opportunities in underserved communities throughout its 25-year history.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebration featured many of the women and men who have been a part of the organization throughout its history and supporters from the most storied soccer teams in American history, including members of the “‘99ers,” the World Cup-winning 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team. The Foundation and its supporters also used the 25th anniversary celebration to highlight the contributions of five national leaders who are bringing soccer to underserved communities nationwide.

“We’ve been honored to play a role in the phenomenal growth of the game in the United States,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Sport has existed for millennia because there’s a payoff for everyone who plays – not just those who make it to the very top. Mastery of soccer skills builds confidence and self-esteem. The game teaches teamwork and leadership. We look forward to the next 25 years as we continue to make soccer everyone’s game.”
Award Recipients

Visionary Award

Target has been a leader in corporate responsibility and community-building for years, uplifting neighborhoods nationwide by setting the bar for investing in communities. In 2017, the company made a $14 million commitment to youth soccer to bring the game to more kids and families across the country. This investment included the launch of a grant program to provide local organizations with funding for player and field equipment as well as training for volunteer coaches. In its work with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Target exhibits exemplary leadership and dedication to the Foundation’s mission to increase access to the sport in underserved communities. Target was the first to make a significant contribution and fund the creation of 100 mini-pitches with the Foundation, providing safe places to play nationwide.

Impact Award

Major League Soccer has been a leading force behind the growth of the game in the United States. Founded in 1993 as part of the U.S. bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup, MLS debuted its first season in 1996 with 10 teams. The league excelled in growing its fan base and today 24 teams play in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to growing the sport professionally, the organization has made a significant commitment to addressing important social issues and enriching the lives of those in need through MLS WORKS, the league’s social responsibility platform. MLS has invested millions of dollars for more than a decade to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of the sport in communities nationwide.

Game Changer Award

Founded in 2012 with its inaugural playing season in 2013, the National Women’s Soccer League, LLC operates the only Division 1 professional women’s soccer league in the United States and features the most prolific domestic and international players from around the globe. Guided by the league’s core principles, NWSL is committed to building on its foundation to promote women’s soccer in the United States and provide a home to the world’s top athletes at the highest level, while inspiring the next generation of female athletes.

Trailblazer Award

The 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team will forever have an iconic place in soccer. Aside from being one of the best teams to ever play, the team carved out an important place in sports history by solidifying a foundation for women in soccer. The sheer talent, energy, and determination the ‘99ers encompassed when they clinched the World Cup remains one of the single most inspiring moments in soccer today. Players from this historic team continue to find ways to give back to their communities, broadening access to the game and continuing to energize people around the sport. As trailblazers, this team has served as excellent ambassadors for the game and role models for youth.

Inspiration Award

The players of the 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team have never disappointed. They will defend their FIFA Women’s World Cup title in France this summer. They represent the latest iteration in an evolution of greatness, with the U.S. Women’s National Team considered the most successful in the world due to their consistent high standard of excellence, three World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals, and other competitive awards. The team has inspired countless young women and men to dream big and believe in themselves through a shared vision to increase excitement about soccer. Their impressive talent, combined with their teamwork and community engagement, highlight the best of this sport and showcase the critical skills young people can learn on the field and apply in their lives.

Platinum sponsors of the event included adidas, the Britton Family Foundation, Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium, Major League Soccer, Target, Telemundo Deportes, and NBC Sports.