A Place to Call Home

In 2012, the Utah Development Academy (UDA) was formed with a mission to provide all youth – regardless of economic circumstance – with an opportunity to play soccer. Libby Stockstill, volunteer coordinator and girls program director at UDA, notes that soccer plays an especially important role at the club, creating pathways for all youth by inspiring them to overcome life’s challenges and achieve their full potential.

“All of our teams are based locally within the heart of Salt Lake City,” according to Libby, “but a lot of our programming is in the neighborhoods that have the highest concentration of poverty in Salt Lake City,” she adds, “and the highest concentration of underserved youth in the zip codes that also happen to have the greatest number of youth.”

“There’s a lot of kids that can’t afford to play for some of the clubs because a lot of the time, the club fees are very expensive,” says Margie Arellano, board member and parent at UDA. But, as a parent, she sees how the club works to create opportunities to help make the game accessible to all.

To achieve this, UDA prioritizes the needs of the youth they serve. “We try to eliminate the transportation barriers by being in the neighborhoods where the kids are at and subsidizing cost while still providing high-quality and trained mentor coaches,” Libby explains.

At its inception, one such barrier that UDA had trouble overcoming was the ability to provide year-round programming in the winter climate of Salt Lake City. “Renting indoor spaces in Utah is big business because every sport needs those spaces, whether it’s lacrosse or soccer – or even softball is becoming popular using winter indoor spaces,” says Tyler Stockstill, executive director of UDA. “So, we applied for the Safe Places to Play grant to be able to acquire some Sport Court flooring to put together a couple futsal courts indoors at an old warehouse space that we had come across.”

In 2015, UDA was awarded a grant as a part of the summer Safe Places to Play grant cycle, which allowed them to install two Sport Court futsal courts. For Margie, receiving the grant “was actually one of the coolest things we’ve experienced [as a club].”

In particular, Margie cites the days-long process of installing the courts themselves. “It was such a cool thing to see the parents and the kids for those days just coming for hours and hours at a time and watching this floor get put together,” she remembers. “It was put together by kids who were going to be playing on it, everyone that was going to benefit from it. It was kind of like this mini-community that came together to do that.”

That sense of community only grew when the courts were put to use. “With the Safe Places to Play grant – to be able to develop a facility that has two, top-notch futsal courts – it’s been great because the kids feel like they’re on an equal playing ground,” says Tyler.

“It’s been such an amazing place for these kids,” Margie says. “This helps them develop their skills a bit more and keeps them busy too.”

UDA alum-turned-coach Erica Acevedo remembers the immediate impact the new courts had for her and her teammates. “We would have more time to practice and play,” she recalls. “We also finally had a home field in the winter to play.”

Not only have the courts given UDA a place to play year-round, the facility has also come to serve as a community gathering place. In addition to practices, the facility is home to the club’s main office; it has been host to big events, recreational programming for younger siblings, and coaches trainings; and it’s been a place where UDA alumni have come back to play and visit.

“We’ve had a facility to help with our big events [when] we’re trying to bring the entire organization in,” Libby says, “and that helps us with our mission because we’re trying to create a community within UDA and a supportive community between teams, between families, between coaches. Seventy-seven families have multiple children playing for us,” she continues, “so being able to have everybody there and to have a spot really does create a sense of community.”

Erica notes that “coming into this place always felt like home and still does. I feel like I’m in a safe environment surrounded by amazing people.”

What members of the UDA family – from coaches, to executives, to parents – can all agree on is that these soccer courts have had a transformative effect. “It gives these kids a huge sense of accomplishment that they’re doing something and that they’re doing great and it’s through soccer,” says Margie. “You see beyond just the game of soccer,” she continues. “You see kids completely changing.”

Online letters of interest (LOIs) for the fall 2019 Safe Places to Play grant cycle are now being accepted through September 27th. Follow this link to learn more about the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Safe Places to Play grant cycles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join the U.S. Soccer Foundation in the movement to improve lives through soccer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  • 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.


Tweet or post on Facebook and show the world
that you believe in the power of soccer.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter