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Someone Like You

Someone Like You

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, more than 38% of U.S. girls – compared to 25% of boys – don't participate in sports. By age 14, girls are two times more likely to drop out of sports than boys. These disparities persist as girls enter high school. For children between eighth and twelfth grade, female attrition rates reach -51% versus -31% for boys.

Lack of female representation in sports also extends to coaching. Only 22.5% of the nation’s youth coaches are female. At the intercollegiate level, the percentage of females coaching women’s teams has fallen from 90% in 1972 to roughly 43% in 2014. Coaches often serve as mentors at impressionable stages of athletes lives and these gaps leave many young women without role models who may share similar experiences.

Some postulate that the lower rate of female youth sports participation is correlated to a lack of opportunity, social norms, young girls not having fun, or a scarcity of role models. In Detroit, Soccer for Success partner, Detroit PAL, has sought to change the narrative by taking action on what they believe to be a key determinant of keeping girls in the game: increasing the number of female coach-mentors.

The organization has been seeing results with a participant ratio breakdown of 59% male to 41% female. Their ratio of male to female coach-mentors is also significant: almost half of the organization’s coach-mentors are female.

Detroit PAL’s hope is that the parity of male to female coach-mentors encourages more young women to participate in the program. “When you get these teachers and these young ladies that want to make an impact on youth and you get them into a gym, into a safe place to play, that attracts other women,” says Soccer for Success program manager at Detroit PAL, Mikyle Covington, “because they want to be around female mentors that look like them and act like them and talk like them.”

Samantha, a kindergarten teacher and Soccer for Success program coordinator at Hamilton Academy, agrees. Having been a coach-mentor for the last four years, she has come to learn first-hand how important it is for students to be able to connect with their coaches. “A lot of the girls always ask who their coach is going to be,” Samantha says. “They’re trying to fish out if they want to participate, will they feel comfortable. Just having a female coach allows the girls to see themselves playing the sport. It’s less intimidating for them and for some of the girls who are aren’t athletic, they decide to just give it a try.”

First-year Soccer for Success coach-mentor, Erica, who teaches and coaches second grade students at Hamilton Academy, has seen how her role as a coach and a mentor has allowed her to develop meaningful relationships with her students. “There are so many girls on the team…and they feel like they can go to us,” she says. “Because we’ve developed a relationship on the field, they do come up to me in the hallway and if they need anything, they know that they can ask me. Developing and strengthening those relationships this past year has been really exciting and I think it will bring a different tone [next season].”

That relationship has even trickled down to the players, who often compete with students of all ages during their Soccer for Success practices. Aniyah, for example, has only been playing soccer for one year, but says that one of her favorite parts of soccer is being able to teach younger players different skills. “I like being on the little kids’ team because I get to help them learn how to play and they get to watch the moves we’re supposed to be doing,” she says.

Sixth-grader Johnnese also likes “playing with the other people that go to school and teaching other people how to play.”

At Hamilton Academy, Samantha has noticed that young girls have become confident in their abilities. “At recess, they want to play soccer. They’re more comfortable. They’re more sure of themselves playing sports.”

As the Detroit PAL Soccer for Success community continues to grow, their hope is that more and more women feel empowered to not only participate in soccer, but also continue to create safe and supportive places to play.

Soccer for Success partner, Detroit PAL, identified and put into practice a new method to get more girls and female coach-mentors in the game. Learn more about the work the U.S. Soccer Foundation is doing with its partners to increase female participation in the sport.

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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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