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Paving the Way

Paving the Way

A Where Are They Now? Story

In the fall of 2013, America SCORES Bay Area became an official Soccer for Success partner. At the time – and up until just recently – the organization offered opportunities for boys and girls to participate in all-boys teams or on coed teams, but the need for an all-girls team soon became evident.

“We’ve always wanted to have equitable access to our program,” says Leah Morales, program manager at America SCORES Bay Area. “Having coed teams, we were finding, would work at some schools, but we were having a hard time recruiting and retaining girls.”

“A lot of the boys that are in our program have been playing soccer with their brothers, uncles, dads since they were four years old,” Leah continues. She notes that even if the boys on the team are supportive of the other players, less experienced players can still feel uncomfortable due to being at different stages of learning.

Leah and her colleagues would host all-girls clinics every so often as a way to offer extra play time and to gauge the girls’ interest in the sport. They found that the girls were eager to play soccer but were hesitant to play on teams where their teammates’ skills were at different levels. So, in the fall of 2018, America SCORES Bay Area piloted its first-ever all-girls teams.

“Creating these girls-only spaces was huge; it was the key,” Leah says of the all-girls teams, of which there are now six.

While female participants can now learn the sport at their own pace, Leah also attributes the success of the girls’ side of the program to a particular coach-mentor, Evora, who was hired during the fall 2018 season to serve as the coordinator. “Instead of five or six site visits a week, we now have 12. Without her, it wouldn’t have been possible,” Leah stresses.

Outside of playing her role in site management, Evora is also a role model for the participants she coaches. Nearly 80 percent of all America SCORES participants are Hispanic or Latino and Leah maintains that Evora’s ties to the community and her ability to speak both Spanish and English have helped her form strong bonds with her participants in a short span of time. “They see themselves in her,” Leah says.

As a local community member, Evora is a valuable resource for her participants. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was five years old and just growing up here in San Rafael, California, I’ve been able to get to know a lot of people through soccer.”

Ultimately, Evora is happily amazed at the rate at which the female teams are growing. “The girls are telling younger girls from their schools to come out and play. The teams keep getting bigger,” she says. “There’s one school that I have 23 girls signed up.”

She is also excited by the personal growth she has seen in such a short amount of time. “They’ve gotten so confident in the past couple of weeks and their improvement has been amazing,” she recounts. “They leave their hearts on the field.”

Mia, a fourth-grader who played on a coed team last season, describes her new team as one that provides her with opportunities. “Last year, I was too afraid to do anything in the soccer team, but this year, I feel like I have more chances.”

Paty, Mia’s mother, has seen her daughter’s confidence improve firsthand through the program. “I always wanted her to play sports, but soccer is very expensive, and it’s very competitive,” Paty explains. “It was hard to take that chance in investing all that money if she was going to be afraid to be on the sidelines.”

“I feel like this team, it has a lot of kids that haven’t played soccer before and it’s just a great environment because they feel more eager to learn,” she says of the Soccer for Success program, offered free to participants, “whereas in another team I feel like she would’ve gotten a little bit more shy because the kids are so intense.”

Sandra, mother of Flory, has found that the program is not only a great way for her daughter to exercise consistently through sport, but also provides her with the opportunity to learn from and spend time with her teammates. “I think it’s a nice place for her and a great reason to be with her friends.”

While this is just the first season that America SCORES Bay Area has implemented all-girls teams, the positive impact is already evident. According to Evora, it is now just a matter of bringing the girls’ teams to scale with the boys’ teams. “I just hope to see them incorporating more girls to come out and play soccer,” Evora says of her current participants. “They help each other as well. They help each other improve.”

America SCORES Bay Area identified a pathway for their female participants to enjoy and learn from the game. If your organization has similar goals, look out for the release of the Foundation’s 2019 Program Grants, Reaching Her Potential, which seek to address the lack of representation of young women in soccer. The Request for Proposals will be available in early 2019 and will include details on the application process.

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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.

  • 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.


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    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.

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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.

  • 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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