On April 27-30th, we hosted the 11th annual Urban Soccer Symposium in Washington, DC.
The Symposium kicked off with Capitol Hill Day – where Symposium participants arranged and met with their Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. Attendees developed relationships with their elected officials and educated them on funding priorities important to their organizations.
Day one of the Symposium began with an exciting session with U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis, where she discussed the impact soccer had in her life on and off the pitch, her path to becoming the U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach, and advice she had for attendees to continue to engage girls in soccer. Jill left attendees with the advice of “work to build the confidence in your mind so you can take on the challenges of life head on.”
“It’s part of my blood. I see this game as a gift.” – Jill Ellis
Later, Soccer Without Borders received the inaugural Urban Soccer Symposium Impact Award for their work using soccer to enact measurable and sustainable positive change within communities around the country. Commissioner Kathryn Ott-Lovell of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation was awarded the 2017 Urban Soccer Symposium Influence Award for her commitment to ensuring that children in underserved communities throughout Philadelphia have access to sports-based programming.
The afternoon was filled with innovative breakout sessions that hit on topics from using soccer as a tool for gang violence intervention, to how data can help improve programming. The day concluded with a poster session, where organizations and attendees networked with their peers and showcased their work in the sports-based youth development field.
“It’s not about one person, it’s about the team.” – Jay DeMerit
“Create an environment where all kids feel welcome to play and learn from the game.” – Shannon Boxx
Day two began with former U.S. Women’s National Team Star Shannon Boxx and former U.S. Men’s National Team Star Jay DeMerit sharing their stories and challenges with their professional soccer careers. Jay shared his love for the game from an early age because of the teamwork element.
Shannon shared that when she learned she had lupus, she did not allow it to hold her back, but rather used it as further motivation to be the best she could be. She never missed a U.S. Women’s National Team game or practice. Shannon realized that sharing her story would give her the opportunity to help others by being an advocate for lupus awareness and providing hope so that others with lupus could lead an active lifestyle.
Soccer in the Streets was awarded the 2017 Urban Soccer Symposium Innovation Award for their use of imaginative tactics and original programming to create positive change in underserved communities. Soccer in the Streets received the award for their Station Soccer Club Program, an initiative that brings soccer to urban areas in Atlanta by developing a network of mini soccer fields and program sites clustered inside or around transportation hubs.
Following the award ceremony, Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Youth Network, spoke to attendees about the importance of identifying and partnering with key stakeholders in their respective communities to create lasting positive social change.
“Even if you won’t see the change, the seeds you plant have life in them.”
– Chekemma J. Fulmore-Townsend
The final day of the Symposium began with a heartfelt speech by Adam Foss, Juvenile Justice Reform Advocate, about his personal experience with the U.S. justice system serving as a Prosecutor, the current state of the justice system, and the many barriers that youth in our most neglected communities face.
“People have been waiting for civil rights leaders. Why wait? You are the future civil rights leaders.”
– Adam Foss
The Symposium concluded with a discussion session with former U.S. Soccer Stars Joy Fawcett and Carin Jennings-Gabarra. They discussed their most memorable experiences as members of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the importance of the growth of women’s soccer in the United States and around the world.
“Even today I learn from the game and the team I played with.”
– Joy Fawcett
“The intangibles you get from the game are life lessons.”
– Carin Jennings-Gabarra
The U.S. Soccer Foundation would like to thank the Symposium’s presenting sponsor, Soccer Shots, champion partner, Score, and supporting partner, Sunsweet, for their support. Additionally, we would like to thank all of the attendees and presenters for participating and helping to make the event special. We are already looking forward to next year’s Symposium!