Why do we Need a Soccer Across America Program?
Soccer is the fastest growing sport in the United States. It has reached into communities from coast to coast and from north to south. Yet, soccer has not always served inner city and rural communities and all economic and ethnic groups. In order to insure that every child has the opportunity to play our beautiful game, US Youth Soccer founded the Soccer Across America program.
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 house 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 others 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.
Implementation 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 Committee and regional representatives
- Distribution of program materials and educational opportunities
- Soccer Across America website
- US Youth Soccer national staff
To learn more about the US Youth Soccer Soccer Across America Program and Goals of Soccer Across please go the US Youth Soccer Soccer Across America page on the US Youth Soccer web site.
Information about VYSA Soccer Across America program is shown on the left side of this Soccer Across America page. For information regarding Soccer Across America in VYSA, please contact the VYSA State Office at 540-693-1430 or by e-mail at Eileen@vysa.com.
The First Steps
- Create local awareness of your efforts to begin a Soccer Across America program
- Talk to U S 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 Start 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; 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; In finding coaches, especially youth coaches; In finding a trainer for your new coaches; In setting up equipment exchanges; In 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 is 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, Referees
Goals of Soccer Across America
To reach out to children in under-served and socio-economically disadvantaged places in order to offer them an on-going program of positive sports activities through soccer.
To increase participants self-esteem through participation in an organized and supportive program of team activities.
To build positive social and life skills.
To provide important exercise and increase awareness of one’s own health through sports.
To provide the players with positive, cooperative and enjoyable after school and spare time activities
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 houses and Parks and Recreation Departments. There is no "one size fits all" model for Soccer Across America.