Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. With countless fans and players across the globe, it’s no surprise that it’s such a strong unifying force among people of every age, race, and economic background. The culture surrounding soccer is electric and absolutely contagious. That’s why we wanted to recognize non-profit organizations across the nation that utilize such a powerful resource to promote community outreach, positive social change, and healthy living among young people. Here are NerdWallet’s top 5 youth soccer non-profit organizations.
Soccer Without Borders: Provides a safe environment for underserved youth
Soccer Without Borders addresses three issues facing communities all over the world: the lack of safe, caring environments for young people; few opportunities for youth community involvement; and restricted access to resources for education, employment, and personal growth. Soccer Without Borders uses the naturally communal and inclusive setting found in soccer to promote direct youth involvement in their respective communities. They’ve adapted a unique logic model that emphasizes the development of mind, body, and one’s individual voice. Soccer Without Borders works to give youth the opportunity to be a driving force in social change and to have a say in the future of their community.
Soccer in the Streets: Pioneered the “Street-Box” concept
Soccer in the Streets works to provide just that – a strong soccer community the streets of the inner city. With the development of their “Street-Box” concept, this non-profit addresses the challenges of developing a soccer culture in the inner city: lack of economic means, no accessible transportation to facilities, and minimal volunteer/adult supervision. “Street-Box” is a quick and easy form of soccer similar to pick-up basketball. Soccer in the Streets utilizes unused tennis courts or similar facilities to hold regular soccer matches with permanent goals and all-weather playing surfaces. This revolutionary form of youth soccer has made the sport accessible to more young people who need and want it most.
Beyond Soccer: Promotes overall athletic, academic, and social development
Beyond Soccer is more than just a soccer club – they are a sports-based development organization geared toward overall social and intellectual development among youth. They provide travel soccer leagues, inner-city rec leagues, and indoor soccer programs as well as community service projects, academic mentoring, and health/wellness programs. They also encourage maintaining an active lifestyle in the summer months through camps and clinics. They are working toward becoming a city-wide organization that can make soccer leagues accesible to more players, and promote physical well-being, community action, and overall personal success on a larger scale.
Claudio Reyna Foundation: Encourages community involvement to develop a global perspective
The Claudio Reyna Foundation recognizes and utilizes a very powerful aspect of soccer: pure love of the game. The CRF works to provide an opportunity to fall in love with this universal and international sport due to its inherently global perspective. They combine the power of soccer, education, and community to instill positive and healthy habits in young people, especially those from low-income areas. They promote physical activity as a necessity as opposed to a hobby, and believe education is the single major stepping stone toward a positive and successful future. The CRF uses the myriad of skills, including dedication, discipline, and determination, that are essential to soccer to teach young players that the key to social change, whether local or international, is in their hands.
South Bronx United: Promotes diversity and social change
South Bronx United is an organization that understands the future is now. They emphasize the long-term perspective, and aim to build a foundation for skills that will be learned and utilized in high school, college, careers, in the community, and even beyond. They mirror the international perspective of soccer by stressing the importance of diversity and a community mentality. They establish common goals and a shared sense of ownership of their community and the organization as a whole. South Bronx United also specifically targets childhood obesity rates by offering a number of resources to young players like therapy services in addition to the great exercise that already comes with soccer.