The purpose of Soccer Across America (SAA) is to bring programs and/or strengthen existing programs to communities that are not being served or who are underserved. SAA looks to bring groups together and discuss ways to better serve the greater soccer community by leveraging resources. SAA also looks to develop meaningful relationships with national, regional, state, and local bodies to bring attention to the needs of the soccer community that include youth development, facility development, for the purpose of community development. In the past several years, US Youth Soccer has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial and material support to programs across the United States.
How do I participate?
Contact your local US Youth Soccer State Association office to find out more about getting involved with a local Soccer Across America program. You can find you State Association by clicking here. Or, simply contact Tom Condone for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do we need a Soccer Across America Program?
Soccer is the largest youth sport in the United States with over 13 million players enrolled in afterschool programs. 19.4 million (41% of youth) youth are not currently enrolled but may choose to do so if a program was available to them. US Youth Soccer desires to reach all youth to provide them with an opportunity to be active and be a part of the soccer community.
Goals of Soccer Across America
- Player Development (Soccer and/or Life Skills)
- Community Building (Active Collaborations)
- Celebrating Diversity/Legacy (America & Abroad)
- Technical Assistance and Capacity Building (Proven Strategies and Available Free Toolkits)
Creating Your Own Program
Soccer Across America programs are run locally by existing clubs and leagues, by Boys and Girls Clubs and Y's, by neighborhood and parks and recreation departments. There is no one size fits all model for Soccer Across America.
Each program starts differently and is created locally to meet the needs and capabilities of the organization and of the players. Programs in the nation's biggest cities may include thousands of children, and yet there are hundreds of small programs that focus on one or two teams, one group of kids in a single neighborhood or one corner of a rural farming community.
Programs may last as little as a few weeks in the fall to as much as full seasons in more than one part of the year. Many programs adopt traditional soccer rules with full-sized fields and full length games while other choose to introduce soccer through "Small-Sided Games" on smaller fields. The choices about how to begin are as varied as the places in which they begin. Soccer Across America can help your community decide on how to get started by providing written information and hands-on technical assistance.
The First Steps
- Create local awareness of your efforts to begin a Soccer Across America program
- Talk to US Youth Soccer and your State Association for written and programmatic support
- Seek out other Soccer Across America programs near you and try to learn what worked for them. Often, Soccer Across America sites in the same state have a lot in common.
- Identify a local coordinator, and if possible, a visible role model (well-known soccer person such a professional player, a college coach, even older players, high school or college, from your community or nearby communities)
- Find a coaching instructor
- Identify all the adult administrative functions you will need and develop a volunteer base, as necessary, to fill those functions
- Seek community leadership support first from existing soccer organizations and programs, but also from: Boys and Girls Clubs; neighborhood centers; police athletic leagues; YMCA/YWCA; housing authorities; park and recreation departments; high school and college service organizations; and churches.
- Ask for help from local and state soccer organizations: in setting up basic organizational structures from legal formation to functions needed on your start-up Board of Directors; finding coaches, especially youth coaches; finding a trainer for your new coaches; setting up equipment exchanges; and helping with scheduling questions.
- Seek community-based financial support from: service organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary; churches; neighborhood small business such as restaurants, record stores, clothing outlets, sports stores; service providers such as neighborhood doctors; any other business which are active in the Soccer Across America neighborhood, it is in their interest to help.
- Identify your equipment and supply needs and look for sources to get them donated or to acquire them at the lowest cost to you. Ask existing organizations where they get there equipment and see if you can set up a way to acquire used equipment from them.
- Develop instruction agendas and plans of action for: administrators, coaches, and referees.
In order to promote the Soccer Across America program at the local levels and gain community involvement and awareness, certain equipment, services and financial support is needed. Some of these needs are:
- Leadership, high-profile spokespersons and role models
- Local organization, implementation and administration through volunteer coordinators
- Caring volunteers willing to commit sufficient time to the program as referees, coaches, managers, drivers and chaperons
- Fields or open playing areas
- Corporate, private and community financial support
- Local leadership, organizers and soccer clubs and leagues
- State Association Soccer Across America Committee representative or coordinator
- State Association Soccer Across America/Recreation representative to the state Board of Directors
- US Youth Soccer Soccer Across America Committtee
- Distribution of program materials and educational opportunities
- Soccer Across America website
- US Youth Soccer national staff
- The cost of participation varies depending upon your registration fees, insurance premiums and uniform and equipment costs.
- At all times, cost should be kept to a minimum for all possible participants.
- Grants are available through US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation.
- There are other philanthropic entities, such as the Shriners, which offer assistance. Research other avenues of funding such as local, state and federal government grants and community groups such as the Lions Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
- Approach local retailers, companies or corporations for cash or in-kind donations.