A Solution at The Simple Foundation

When The Simple Foundation started offering soccer programming at their center in Omaha, Nebraska, the teams were made up predominantly of boys.

In fact, so few girls were rostered that The Simple Foundation didn’t have any girls teams. Of the girls who did come to play, most stopped showing up because they wanted to play with other female peers.

Having played soccer at The Simple Foundation herself and now a full-time professional running the Soccer for Success program at the Foundation, Afiya Madut is on a mission to get more girls involved in soccer because she believes that soccer is for everyone. “Back then, there weren’t any girls teams,” Afiya says of her time as a youth player. “It was just me and my two sisters training with the boys, and we got tired of training with the boys.” With Afiya at the helm, the Simple Foundation set out to figure out why girls weren’t joining teams and what they could do to change that.

What they knew was that the community they serve is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds, but mostly of immigrant communities, including from Sudan and Ethiopia and of various tribes such as Uduk, Mabaan, and Bantu. Customarily, it is the duty of women in the family to help around the house, help with meals, and take care of siblings. In addition, parents told the program leaders that they also worry about their daughters getting injured on their way to practice or on the field and that they worried that by playing soccer they wouldn’t be able to protect their customs in terms of style of dress.

So, they got to work going directly to the families with girls themselves to recruit. In some cases, this included knocking door to door to let the communities know about upcoming tryouts or sending kids home with flyers. Afiya and her colleagues also help put on pop-up events where families play soccer and enjoy food from the grill.

two young girls playing soccer

But in a community whose native language is not English, The Simple Foundation also went a step further to help alleviate any worries. Makay Weliyo is a family liaison who speaks Maay Maay and Somali (she mentions she’s still working on her Spanish), which allows her to call parents and help address their concerns. “I help them understand that it is OK for girls to come out and play soccer. It is OK for them to come and express themselves,” she says. “A lot of parents feel that girls won’t be able to protect themselves if someone tries to hurt them, so then we just go over each and every person who works here, each and every person who is a coach, that they have to go through training, they get a background check, and that all the kids know if anything happens to go directly to somebody.”

The Simple Foundation also provides long pants and hijabs for girls to wear while playing, which makes the parents more comfortable as well. According to Afiya, this helps parents realize “they actually care about our kids” and “that made it easier for the parents to let their daughters come.”

Now, there are about 80-100 girls participating in soccer at The Simple Foundation. And for many of them, soccer has only just opened their eyes to what they are capable of. “Soccer gave them a lot of freedom,” says Afiya. “We went out and saw new things, learned new things every single soccer practice. We learned ‘I may be a girl, but I can still do all the stuff the guys are doing, or even more.’”

boys and girls playing on grass field

“One of the biggest misconceptions that I had when I started playing soccer would be that I would never be good as the boys,” she continues. “That has changed by seeing all these amazing female players who play their hearts out every game.”

This sentiment is also especially true for Afiya’s sister, Biyana, who played soccer and is now pursuing her real estate license. “For me, soccer helped me a lot with playing high school soccer. I was able to make varsity my freshman year,” she says. “Being a part of the program, you have a lot of opportunities.”

Biyana remarks that parents’ attitudes have changed too. “Now they know where we are, what we’re doing, and we’re grown now so they expect us to make our own choices that are good for us.”

And lastly, it’s not only the girls and their parents whose perceptions have changed. Makay remembers seeing brothers watching their sisters play for the first time. “It is amazing,” she says. “They get so excited, saying things like ‘Oh, I didn’t know my sister could kick that great!’ It’s just very nice when they’re supporting each other.”

The Simple Foundation is one of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s United for Girls cohort partners. Launched in June 2019, United for Girls is an initiative aimed at increasing opportunities for young girls and women from underserved communities to play soccer and reap its many benefits. Through this effort, The Simple Foundation is learning how to identify, elevate, and scale best practices for recruiting and engaging women coach-mentors and players in U.S. Soccer Foundation programs.

Categories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

JOIN US

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.

OUR PARTNERS

adidas

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.

CHA

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.

GEICO

GEICO

GEICO is committed to impacting local communities through Educational programs, Community Development projects and Equity & Inclusion initiatives. To date, GEICO has donated to 7,000+ charities and averaged between $6 and $8 million in annual giving over the last two decades. To learn more about GEICO’s commitment to the community please visit www.geico.com/about/in-the-community.

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives is a corporate social responsibility initiative from Genesis Motor North America. Expanding on the brand’s commitment to the highest standards of performance and its athletic elegance design identity, Genesis Gives supports nonprofit organizations with the goal of improving access to, and performance in, youth sports and STEAM education in under resourced communities.

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.

Miami Children's Trust

Miami Children's Trust

The Children’s Trust supports Soccer for Success programming in South Florida. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.

MLS WORKS

MLS WORKS

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

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

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

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.

Telemundo

Telemundo

The U.S. Soccer Foundation and Telemundo are joining efforts to advance soccer as a means for helping children in underserved communities reach their full potential, including supporting the Foundation’s signature Soccer for Success youth program, which provides free or low-cost soccer programs during and after school at more than 250 sites nationally. Telemundo will also serve as the first official and exclusive Spanish-language media partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. For more information visit https://www.telemundo.com/el-poder-en-ti.

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.

SHARE YOUR SUPPORT ON SOCIAL

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

Share on facebook
Share on twitter