inSERVICE: Changing Lives With Soccer

Highly Quotable

“I’ve used my experience from playing sports in almost every aspect of my life. Playing soccer is where I found my voice, and playing softball was where I learned precision, and in every game I learned to play as a member of a team—to work not for my own glory, but for a shared goal.”

—   Linda Sanchez, U.S. Representative

70% of predominantly black and Hispanic communities lack recreational facilities. 75% of kids between 6 and 17 years old don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity. 33% of kids aren’t at a healthy weight. And one in three children are lacking a mentor in their lives. These stats are front and center on the website of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a 501(C)(3) organization leading sports-based youth development in under-resourced areas.

Founded as a legacy of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the foundation aims to provide underserved communities access to innovative play spaces and evidence-based soccer programs that instill hope, foster well-being and help youth achieve their full potential.

It does this through several programs: 

  • The Safe Places to Play initiative aims to create 1,000 mini-pitches across the country by 2026. A mini-pitch is a customized hard-court surface well-suited for both soccer programs and pickup games. Once installed, mini-pitches act as community hubs, encourage physical activity and provide more opportunities for play. The foundation recently reached a milestone in its goal, opening its 700th mini-pitch in North Las Vegas.
  • The Soccer for Success program uses soccer both after school and in school to improve kids’ physical and mental health and overall well-being in underserved communities. To date, more than 700,000 kids have felt the positive impacts of the program.
  • The Just Ball League aims to provide children in underserved communities the opportunity to play close to home, using mini-pitches and other community areas for play.
  • Coach-Mentor Training reaches coaches with training to enable them to serve as mentors and create positive connections with youth. The foundation offers free online training, as well as in-person training experiences.      RM

Tell Us All About It!

Know of a nonprofit organization that has influenced recreation, sports and fitness for the better? Send your suggestion to [email protected]