A Piece of the Puzzle

On September 15, 2000, Cathy Freeman, an aboriginal Australian track star, was given the honor of lighting the Olympic Torch during the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games as a symbol of the desire for social reconciliation between whites and the island’s native populations. That night, a seed was planted in the heart and mind of this young fan about the power that sport can have beyond the field of play.

Nine years later, on October 19, 2009, the United Nations officially recognized the role that the International Olympic Committee and the entire Olympic movement could play in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the UN’s roadmap for significantly reducing global poverty between 2000 and 2015. This was a momentous occasion that both acknowledged the power that sport can have when addressing crucial challenges like conflict, unemployment, gender equality and health, and endorsed the viability of sports-based development for future activities from the highest level.

This field has been growing and changing rapidly in the last several decades and especially in the last several years. With the creation of international working groups, communication platforms and conferences, it is much easier for groups to get the word out about what they are doing as well as for interested parties to learn about how they might be able to get involved. As implementers begin to move beyond the sentimental and theoretical value of sport to more rigorously measuring the impact of activities, there is a growing base of evidence to show that these kinds of interventions really have tangible benefits for people of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, and social backgrounds. Sport is, after all, such a simple and beautiful tool because it is so universal.

As we at the Foundation are starting the New Year off with discussions about where we are heading with our own activities, it is also important for us to take a step back and look at how we fit into the broader picture of this field. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of examples of other groups that are doing or promoting this kind of work both in the United States and around the world.

For example, this past November our President & CEO, Ed Foster-Simeon, had the chance to travel halfway around the world to Doha, Qatar to speak about the Foundation’s work at the Doha GOALS Forum – an event that brings practitioners from all of over the world together to promote sport as a catalyst for social change. Our friends at Street Soccer USA are using the beautiful game in urban areas to help disadvantaged adults achieve better health, education and employment outcomes, and international networks like StreetFootballWorld and the Homeless World Cup are among many other groups utilizing the power of soccer to improve social outcomes among underserved populations. And this is just the tip of the sport-for-development iceberg that includes all kinds of activities ranging from skateboarding in Cambodia to capoeira in refugee camps around the Middle East.

I wanted to work here at the Foundation because that seed planted long ago has grown into a strong belief that I share with many of my colleagues – that sport has the power to transform lives beyond the field of play. As someone who has benefited firsthand from the welcoming reception of a grassy pitch in a foreign place, supporting Soccer for Success and our other programs that extend that same invitation to thousands of children is such a pleasure. And being a part of this broader community that is making such a profound difference in contexts and situations where so many other methods and attempts have failed is an even greater honor.

So while the curtain closes on the Millennium Development Goals this year and the world considers how to frame the fight against poverty and inequality moving forward, it is encouraging to know that sport is firmly present in the conversation. And as programs like Soccer for Success continue to demonstrate impressive results on the ground, we will be motivated to continue growing our reach and impact – as one piece of the intricate puzzle of improving lives and underserved communities.


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  • adidas


    adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit adidas.com.

  • APT


    APT (Advanced Polymer Technology), the Foundation’s Partner for Acrylic Coating Products, is a global leader in high performance sports surfaces. APT provides people around the world with safe, reliable, performance enhancing surfaces. APT’s Laykold Masters acrylic surfacing system will be the official surface of an estimated 500 mini-pitches. For more information on APT, please visit www.sportsbyapt.com.

  • CHA


    CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit chacompanies.com

  • The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

    DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit SportsMatter.org.

  • Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson, the Foundation’s grant partner, is dedicated to supporting the next generation of female leaders by providing greater access to girls’ youth soccer programming in underserved communities nationwide. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson strives to create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. For more information, please visit www.jnj.com.

  • Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit Kwikgoal.com.



    MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.

  • Musco


    As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit https://ussoccerfoundation.org/grants/ to learn more about the grant program and application process.

  • SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports

    SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit scoresports.com.

  • Soccer.com


    Soccer.com, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. Soccer.com embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit soccer.com.




  • Target


    Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

  • TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide

    TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

    For more information on our services, please visit https://www.worldwidetgi.com or contact Mike Squire at msquire@worldwidetgi.com / Phone: 312-371-5852.

  • World Soccer Shop

    World Soccer Shop

    Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit www.worldsoccershop.com.


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