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Meet the Members:
The Congressional Soccer
Caucus Co-Chairs

Meet the Members:
The Congressional Soccer
Caucus Co-Chairs

Ahead of the 7th annual Congressional Soccer Match, we sat down with the co-chairs of the Congressional Soccer Caucus to learn more about how soccer has impacted their lives and those of their families.

The Co-Chairs:
The Honorable Don Bacon (R-NE 2nd District)
The Honorable Kathy Castor (D-FL 14th District)
The Honorable Darin LaHood (R-IL 18th District)
The Honorable Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd District)

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A CAUCUS CO-CHAIR?

Rep. Bacon: I played soccer in college and Congressman LaHood pleaded for help! Seriously though, whether you call it soccer or football, it is the world’s most popular sport and is played in over 200 countries. It’s a sport that is universal and I loved playing it.

Rep. LaHood: Growing up in central Illinois, sports always played a role in my life and my family’s life. As a kid, I was always drawn to sports – the camaraderie of playing on a team, the competitive nature of sports, and lessons of success and failure in athletics helped shape who I am. When I came to Congress, I wanted to find a platform to express my support of sports and to continue advocating for athletics across this country – and co-chairing the Soccer Caucus lets me do just that. Soccer is a worldwide game that is important to my family and community in central and west-central Illinois. In the 18th District we have a successful and diverse soccer presence, with eight college or university soccer programs, both men and women.  I’m proud to be a leader in Congress for the positive impact soccer has on children, our state, this country, and the world. I also have three sons that play soccer.

Rep. Larsen goes toe-to-toe with former USWNT forward, Carin Gabarra

Rep. Larsen: Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and unites billions of people from different communities, religions and ethnic backgrounds unlike any other sport. As co-chair of the Soccer Caucus, I can give this inclusive sport a voice on Capitol Hill.

HOW HAS SOCCER IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?

Rep. Bacon: My two sons played travel soccer in elementary, junior high, and high school, and it is still a part of their lives today. Both played on their varsity teams and one scored the winning goal in the state high school championship. It was a critical part of their development and I enjoyed watching them learn how to be a teammate and work together with others to achieve a common “goal.” …Pun intended!

L to R: Rep. Castor, Rep. Bergman, U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon, Senator Young, Rep. LaHood, and Rep. Bacon

Rep. Castor: I love soccer and spent many years on the field as a devoted parent in support of my daughter and her teams. I have seen firsthand how important soccer can be for children as they grow and develop important life skills. Studies show that after-school activities lead to healthier lifestyles, increased knowledge about exercise and nutrition and positive gains in reading, math and reduced crime in our neighborhoods.

Rep. Larsen: The Pacific Northwest has one of the strongest soccer fan bases in the country, and as such, soccer has played a big role in my life. I started playing soccer when I was eight years old and have been an avid fan my entire life. I still cheer on the Sounders.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE THE MATCH SYMBOLIZES?

Rep. LaHood with a Soccer for Success DC SCORES participant ahead of kickoff

Rep. Castor: The Congressional Soccer Match is a great opportunity for members across the political spectrum to come together, support a good cause and have fun! It is also an amazing opportunity to create awareness on how sports like soccer can be leveraged to transform communities and ensure that children reach their full potential. I am excited every year to help share the benefits of the “beautiful game” with our children, especially in underserved communities, by raising awareness on the U.S. Soccer Foundation's grants for after-school programs. Winning the Congressional Soccer Match for the fourth year in a row isn’t bad, either.

Rep. LaHood: The Congressional Soccer Match symbolizes the positive relationships and camaraderie between Members and political parties that outside observers of Washington don’t necessarily see on cable television. The Match brings Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle together, and for just a few hours, it gives us an opportunity to put aside politics and play a game we all love. But the game also symbolizes more than just bipartisanship and fun – the game also highlights the work done by the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs that support children in underserved communities and encourage children to embrace active lifestyles while learning about sportsmanship and the value of being on a team. The Match lets us promote the importance of engaging in physical activity, expanding access to sports for youth, and living a healthy lifestyle. 

Rep. Castor lifts the trophy with former USWNT goalkeeper, Saskia Webber

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO SOCCER?

Rep. Bacon: You can be tall or short and still compete in soccer unlike many other sports. It’s a great sport to keep folks at all ages in good physical shape. The game relies purely on skill, endurance, and quickness rather than muscle strength and physique. 

Rep. Castor: Soccer not only celebrates the values of teamwork and camaraderie, but can also bridge cultural differences and foster goodwill by bringing teams and fans together across the globe – especially in my hometown of Tampa. It provides players with the community and confidence that will shape their lives on and off the field.

Rep. LaHood: Soccer, unlike most other sports, is a worldwide game that is played on almost every continent and has the power to bring people from all walks of life and backgrounds together. It also is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Ensuring everyone in the U.S., particularly youth and those in underserved communities, has access to soccer is important because it is a game that can teach valuable life lessons, encourage healthy lifestyles, and provide safe environments where young people can thrive. Soccer can have a powerful impact on society and increasing access will only create a more prosperous and healthier environment for our kids and their kids to grow up in.  

Rep. Larsen: Soccer is a safe, accessible and affordable sport that teaches kids more than just how to score a goal. There are tremendous health and social benefits when people have access to play soccer. Recently, I was at an event in my district where I met Angel Martinez who plays with the Seattle Sounders Academy. He was about to leave to play in a tournament with the national team in Italy. Soccer can connect a kid from Northwest Washington to other players around the world. 

Join Rep. Bacon, Rep. Castor, Rep. LaHood, and Rep. Larsen at D.C. United’s Audi Field for this year’s Congressional Soccer Match. All proceeds benefit the Foundation’s life-changing programs. Learn more here.

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Our Partners

  • 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.

  • All Sports Enterprises, Inc.

    All Sports Enterprises, Inc. is the U.S. Soccer Foundation's preferred artificial turf supplier and installer. Whether you are building a new, or renovating an existing facility, All Sports Enterprises, Inc. has the materials and professional installation crews to outfit your entire complex. With over 30 different manufacturers to choose from, All Sports Enterprises, Inc. will assist you in selecting the right products for the right application. Its intallation crews are experienced, certified, and will work with you and your staff to make sure your project is a complete success.


  • 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.

  • AstroTurf

    For athletes and soccer enthusiasts, AstroTurf® is redefining how synthetic soccer fields are built and perform. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of clubs, high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf’s LigaTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit the company’s recently redesigned website, www.astroturf.com/soccer. - See more at: https://ussoccerfoundation.org/article/astroturf-partners-with-the-u.s.-soccer-foundation-as-a-national-partner-for-field-building-program#sthash.FL8E8bAM.dpuf

  • 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

  • Hunter

    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.

  • 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, 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

    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.

  • MTJ Sports

    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.

  • 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, 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.

  • Sport Court

    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.

  • 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

    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.

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