National Training 2019 Highlights

Each year, the U.S. Soccer Foundation hosts coach-mentors from across the country for National Training. From July 11 to July 14, 2019, these coach-mentors learned the new Soccer for Success curriculum through a combination of on-field demonstrations, activities, presentations, and classroom-style learning. At the end of the weekend, these individuals became certified to train other Soccer for Success coach-mentors back in their communities. Check out some highlights from the event!

Photography: Pershon Hargett/Imagine Photography

Day 1 – Overcoming Adversity

The event kicked off with opening remarks from U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. “We talk about Soccer for Success, we talk about big numbers and reaching 120,000 kids this coming school year,” he told the group. “But the secret sauce to everything is you all.”

“We’ve got a great team that writes beautiful curriculum, impactful curriculum, we’ve done all kinds of data analysis on impact of what this work, this program, can do for children. But none of that matters without you,” he continued. “For the children that you’re working with, don’t underestimate the power that you have to be a positive influence in their lives, to lift them up, and to help them overcome many challenges that are in front of them.”

Former USMNT player Charlie Davies then took the floor to share an important message about how soccer taught him critical life skills like how to overcome adversity, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Through various obstacles throughout his life – which included battling depression, a nearly-fatal car crash, and cancer – Charlie maintains that it was the lessons learned through the beautiful game that helped him overcome them.

Speaking to the moment after the car crash, Charlie reflected out loud to the group: “I was alive. I had my life and all those moments I had as a child, in high school, in college, prepared me for this moment right here, which is either to feel sorry for yourself – that you’re going to lose what you worked your whole life to have – or to get back up and fight and go as far as you can.”

“Each occurrence of adversity preps you for the next one,” he said. “Adversity is not just going to come at you one time. It happens throughout your life. And after each time, you get stronger, and learn from it that once you get through one…it’s just going to help you become stronger and mentally ready to take on the next challenge.”

Charlie’s life story resonated with many. “To know how much hardship he had gone through and how sport has been able to help him cope and also help him make it through that adversity…and how the sport has propelled him into a position of professionalism, it was very inspiring,” said Ismael Candelas of THINK TOGETHER. “His story I believe resonates a lot with some of the experiences that we have in the communities where we want to be able to help the children as best as we can but we know there’s some deeper issues that we just can’t necessarily get to, but at least we provide a beacon of light to be able to support them.”

Day 2 – Embracing a Growth Mindset

Throughout the second day of National Training, participants dived into the new curriculum training, with the day’s focus being how to embrace a growth mindset. In the context of Soccer for Success, this is the idea that coaches can motivate their players to achieve beyond what they think is achievable, regardless of their starting points.

“The idea is to get those kids with a fixed mindset over to the growth mindset, even if a kid is so determined…to be the best soccer player in the world,” said Omar Cummings of FC Cincinnati.

Photography: Pershon Hargett/Imagine Photography

But teaching participants to adopt a growth mindset does not only apply to the soccer field, he notes. “I think every lesson learned in the game, it can transition outside the game,” Omar continues. “It could be any game; it could be any environment; it could be any scenario in your life…The mindset is what you’re trying to change. Regardless of what environment you’re in, the same things apply.”

Day 3 – Building Culturally Responsive Coaching Environments

Leading up to day 3 of National Training, attendees had been given various tools to help them connect with their players on an individual level. On Saturday morning, Patricia Morgan, Coordinator of Science, Health, and Physical Education of the Fayette County Board of Education presented coaches with another set of tools through a series of activities.

One such activity focused on identifying surface-level and deep culture, the main takeaway being that qualities like perception of beauty, eye contact, and storytelling aren’t always so cut-and-dry. These qualities can have varying levels of importance depending on the individual and his or her culture.

“We have to get past the surface-level culture,” Patricia said. “All of us have deep culture and it impacts the way we interact with our players, our colleagues, our communities. And sometimes our communities hold biases about us because of our race, our class, our gender. And sometimes we hold biases about others.”

For Patricia, the main hope is that we all can “get to know each other on a deeper level so that we open lines of communication that sometimes is hard for people to do based on their cultural identities…If you think about sports, if you think about athleticism, it’s the one place where our sub-cultures should be celebrated.”

Day 4 – Graduation and Key Takeaways

On the final day of National Training, participants earned their graduation certificates, ready to go back to their communities to impact more coaches and young people across the country.

“It is really special for me to be a part of this,” reflected Kaley Mialki of Florida 4-H in Osceola County. “It’s been really fun learning from the facilitators, but it’s actually been really fun learning from my colleagues here too because everyone has their own little tricks of the trade, so it’s been really helpful.”

Photography: Pershon Hargett/Imagine Photography

“I feel very lucky to be part of this movement,” said Ismael. “I feel very thankful to my organization that trusts the selected few to make it out and be part of the cause, the movement, to make this awesome game available to multiple communities, particularly communities that are underserved that we know can benefit so much.”

The 2019 National Training hosted 130 participants representing 51 Soccer for Success programs across the country. These now-certified Soccer for Success Trainers return to their communities ready to collectively train 5,000 coach-mentors that will strive to make a lasting, positive impact on more than 100,000 youth nationwide during the 2019-2020 Soccer for Success program year.


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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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Kwik Goal

    Kwik Goal

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    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 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

  •, 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. embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit

  • Target


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  • 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 or contact Mike Squire at / 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


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