In 2011, I was part of a team that formed a small non-profit focused on soccer programming. At the time, we were starting to make connections with other organizations in different parts of the country. A few years later, while building on these connections, I stumbled upon information about the Urban Soccer Symposium and decided to attend. When I arrived at the Symposium for the first time in 2015, I was unaware of the impact the event would have on our organization.
Attending the Symposium and connecting with the different groups that were also running soccer programming in urban, underserved areas was an amazing experience. It was an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other.
The first year we attended the Symposium, we also participated in Capitol Hill Day. We spent the day with a group of soccer organizations from Texas visiting different politicians from our state, which was a great experience. An unexpected consequence of attending the Symposium was that when we returned to El Paso, our organization was seen in a different light by our own community. We had gained respect and had a higher profile because we had represented the community in our nation's capital.
Since 2015, we have continued to attend the Symposium as presenters as well as participants. Although it is a financial expense for our organization, it’s worth the investment and we continue to attend because of the doors it opens for our organization. It keeps us connected to the national community that provides soccer programming in urban, underserved communities and is always well worth it.
We are excited to attend again this year and hope to see you there!
Simon Chandler is the Executive Director at Segundo Barrio Futbol Club, which uses soccer as a tool for social change by developing programs that foster the physical, mental, and emotional growth and development of boys and girls in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio neighborhood and beyond.
To learn more about the Urban Soccer Symposium, presented by Soccer Shots, click here.