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My Pitch of Dreams

My Pitch of Dreams

Growing up I was an active kid. I’ll admit it, I had a lot of energy. What four-year-old doesn’t? My parents would constantly say that I was “bouncing off the walls.” I would turn anything in the house I could into an activity or challenge; the furniture, walls, staircases, you name it, I was finding a way to use it.

Upstairs in our house, my sister’s room had a canopy bed - the one with the high railings all around. Well, for an active four-year-old, it was the perfect jungle gym. I would wander up to her room, jump on the bed, and swing from the canopy.

One day, all my mom heard was a loud crash. I, along with the canopy, landed on the floor. After that, my parents signed me up for soccer.

My parents’ goal was for me to participate in an activity where I could burn off my energy. Most leagues didn’t offer organized sports to kids my age, but the local soccer organization in Annandale, Virginia did. I’ve seen pictures and home videos from that year, which consisted of a bunch of four-year-olds running around. There was no method to the madness and there wasn’t a need for one. All I knew was, I was wanted. I belonged. We didn't know who was considered “the best.” What we did know was that we got to run around with friends, our coach gave us orange slices and juice at half time, and people cheered for us.

My start to soccer was fantastic! I don’t think my parents ever anticipated soccer to become anything more than an outlet for my energy. Time, hard work, and passion proved otherwise. Soon, soccer became a staple of my daily life. I’d play every day, with the neighborhood kids in the street, at school during recess, with my club, and school teams. On any given day, you could find me with a ball at my feet. Soccer was my dream.

The grass at North Springfield Elementary was one of my first soccer fields. I met one of my closest friends, Abe Thompson, playing soccer. Abe and I would strategize together, trying our best to anticipate how the game would unfold at recess. Abe and I went on to win a National Championship, attend the University of Maryland, and played professional soccer together in MLS. Abe’s still my best friend. Two hardworking dreamers started together at North Springfield.


Soccer is impactful. Soccer teaches the importance of teamwork, hard work, and persistence. Truthfully, soccer will humble you. No game is ever the same. To me this is why soccer is called, “The Beautiful Game.” Soccer is a 90-minute escape from reality.

In the fall of 2015, I was invited to a U.S. Soccer Foundation event. It was there that I learned about the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s field-building initiative, Safe Places to Play, which transforms underutilized spaces into mini-pitches. I was immediately impressed with the impact of the pitches.

At the event, I loved hearing about the stories of kids coming together in neighborhoods across the country to play soccer on the mini-pitches. It reminded me of playing as a kid in the street with my friends and neighbors.

Clarence and Noah at Survey Monkey Event

My family home is still in North Springfield. When I visit, I’ve noticed that as demand for class space has grown, the soccer field has shrunk. Little by little, that grass field I grew up playing on has gotten smaller.

Now, with two kids of my own, I understand the importance of all kids having a safe place to play. A place to explore. A place to challenge yourself. A place to belong. I saw what was left of the field and I was reminded of my conversations about the mini-pitches. A transformed field has the power to transform not only play space, but also the community the field serves.

A quote that continually inspires my wife, Kelsey, and me is, “When you see the need. That is the call.” She first heard this quote as a teenager from her pastor, Bill Johnson and it is a sentiment that we continue to apply every day. Together, we share the same passion for bringing a new space for soccer to the school and community.

With the opening of the Clarence E. Goodson IV mini-pitch, I hope the grassy green field, that's now a brilliant blue surface, will inspire the next generation to play, grow, fall down and get back up stronger, and escape reality for 90 minutes. I hope this pitch will allow each young heart and mind to dream. I pray one day some of these North Springfield students will succeed beyond their wildest dreams and give back to the next generation of hardworking dreamers.


On September 18th, Clarence Goodson returned to North Springfield Elementary and opened the Clarence Goodson IV mini-pitch. The grand opening featured Clarence, his wife Kelsey, their extended family and friends, and members of the school community, including the entire student body at North Springfield Elementary.

Clarence addressed the crowd, and spoke about the important role soccer has played in his life, and emphasized his hopes and dreams for the mini-pitch. "My dream is that this pitch will become a community meeting place. A space where you can express yourself here."

We opened the pitch with a ceremonial first kick, where students joined Clarence, Abe, and our President & CEO, Ed Foster-Simeon, on the pitch, and together, all took a shot on the goal. After, students played two opening matches, while Clarence and Abe coached from the sidelines.

It was exciting to celebrate the opening of the Clarence Goodson IV mini-pitch with the Goodson’s family, friends, and the local community. Thank you again to Clarence and his family for their generous support in bringing a new safe space to play to his childhood community.


Clarence E. Goodson IV Pitch




"You can do and be anything you want to be, if you work hard and are honest and respect yourselves and your peers."

- Clarence Goodson IV




Clarence watching the first match




Clarence and Ed


Comments

This has been an amazing for the North Springfield Community. My 6 year old was there at the dedication and looked forward every day of the school year to play at recess and after school! By the end of the year he was begging to wear his cleats so he could play a better game at recess. The Kindergarten kiddos line up at recess, 10 at a time they go in, the teacher blows the whistle, the run out and get back in line to go back in. It really is something special that they have such a nice place to play, and I for one can say that it got my Son interested (if not obsessed) in a sport that he knew nothing about. Thank you for being an inspiration and providing such an amazing gift to the community.

Susan - August 17, 2018

The heroic work by Ed and the Foundation continues, and well in Clarence, well in ;-)

GERARD P WALKER - September 19, 2017

What an inspirational story for us all. I have so much admiration and love, not only for my nephew's accomplishments, but his character and willingness to give back to the sport that gave him so much. We are all so proud of you and thank you for sharing yourself and your story with the world. Can't wait to see what comes next! You will always be our "bouncing off the walls" beloved rock star! Aunt Lisa

lisa nyceName (required) - September 29, 2017

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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.

  • 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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