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Finding the Drive

Finding the Drive

Ten years ago, Luz’s daughter – the oldest sibling in the family – started playing soccer with the Illinois Youth Soccer Association (IYSA). Luz’s two sons followed suit soon after. This was an opportunity to play the game they all loved, but what Luz and her family could not have foreseen was the greater impact that the sport would have on the family, and more importantly, on Luz herself.

When her children began participating in Soccer for Success, Luz would sit at a table nearby to watch them. “I did not talk much with the parents or the coaches,” she remembers. “I just sat and watched. I was quiet, serious, and did not talk much.” But little by little, she became involved. While she was self-admittedly shy, she found ways to contribute – picking up trash, helping to collect soccer balls at the end of practices, and distributing uniforms.

Ale Jurado, program director at IYSA, describes Luz as dependable. When asked to take on a leadership role with another mom so that girls, including her daughter, could participate in their soccer program, Luz’s commitment was immediately evident. “We basically had to have two or three moms help us out and gather up a group of girls and present that curriculum,” recounts Ale. “So, she ended up taking that leadership role.”

This leadership role opened new doors and opportunities for Luz. At the start of the program, the boys and girls practiced at separate facilities – each required a drive out to the suburbs. Though Luz did not know how to drive, she always made sure her children got to practice – which often involved long bus rides – because she saw firsthand the impact that Soccer for Success had on them.

The Soccer for Success program also empowered Luz to do things she’d never done – namely, learn how to drive. “I bought a car,” Luz remembers. “And with that car, I learned to drive with Ale’s help…It made me independent.”

One could say her children learned by example from acts like this. “My mom, she taught me to be disciplined and never quit,” her youngest son, Bryan, says. “When something’s hard for me, she always encourages me to keep going. When we were younger, it was always hard for us to get to practice but she would always take us no matter what.”

Lessons of resilience like these taught Luz’s children to persevere to achieve a goal, which translated to the pitch. Her two sons made varsity as freshmen and Bryan, who has been in the program since he was four, recently traveled to Barcelona with the Illinois Olympic Development Program (ODP) team.

Nearly a decade later, Luz has cemented herself as an integral member of the IYSA community. “Luz could probably take over the program any time she wanted,” Ale jokes. “She takes a lot of initiative now,” Ale continues, “and helps me out a lot.”

“Now, I speak with other parents, with other students,” Luz says. “I go to schools and help Ale do their BMI testing. I go to schools when they need equipment like balls or goals.”

Soon, Luz’s youngest child will graduate high school, but that doesn’t negate the positive impact the program has had – and will continue to have – on her kids. “Everything they know about soccer, they learned from the program,” she maintains.

Bryan agrees. “Everything I know about soccer, all the people I know, everything is through [IYSA],” Bryan says. “They always help me grow as a player, as a friend, as an individual – and they’ve done that with my family…They always helped me throughout the years.”

Even when her kids are no longer part of the youth soccer program, Luz will continue to provide support, not only because of what it has done for her children, but because of what it has done for her.


“She’s a big advocate of our program – very, very big advocate,” says Ale. “The youngest has been here since he was four; he’s now 16, so that gives you a lot of credit. Bryan is a good player – he’s done ODP, he’s done travel, and he’s part of Soccer for Success – so that gives you a lot of credibility in the sense of that our program is helping the parents and the player.”

“Soccer has brought many great things to my family,” Luz says. “I learned and have grown so much as a person and a parent in the program. I am now a true advocate of the program as it has taught me so much.”

Follow this link to learn more about how Soccer for Success has impacted community members – like Luz and her children – across the country.

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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.

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    Hunter Industries, the Foundation's National Partner for Irrigation Equipment, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of irrigation equipment for turf, landscape and soccer fields.  Hunter Industries' focus is on landscape irrigation with a significant part of its business centering on the proper care and maintenance of sports turf. For more information, please visit hunterindustries.com. Please contact Lynda Wightman, 406-273-3073, lynda.wightman@hunterindustries.com with any questions regarding the U.S. Soccer Foundation's grants program.

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    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.

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    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.

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    MTJ Sports is honored to be a corporate partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation and its Safe Places To Play program. We believe in working with our customers as a true business partnership. We cultivate & drive healthy relationships through our core business values and provide premier turnkey services for sports surfaces & equipment from design & manufacturing all the way through the installation process. For more information please visit our website at www.mtjsports.com or contact our president, Mats Jonmarker, directly via email at mats@mtjsports.com.

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    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, 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.

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    Sport Court®, the Foundation's Supplier for Futsal Surfaces, has been the industry leader in modular athletic flooring for over 30 years. With more than 50,000 installations worldwide, and the largest and most experienced network of authorized dealers, Sport Court® delivers innovative, durable, high-performance solutions for a variety of sports and activities. For more information, please visit sportcourt.com. Please contact Lauren Gillian at lgillian@sportcourt.com for any questions regarding Sport Court's corporate partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

  • Target

    Target announced a national partnership with Safe Spaces to Play in 2017, along with a 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.

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    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.

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