Blog
Under One Umbrella

Under One Umbrella

Many residents of metropolitan Syracuse are refugees who have come to the U.S. from countries like Turkey, Uganda, Rwanda, and Nepal. David Pittman, Programs and Development Manager at the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County, has not always called Syracuse home. But, having grown up in Spain, soccer has always played an important role in his life, and it still does. “Since I moved to the States, soccer has been a way for me to connect to my culture, to make me feel closer to my culture even though I’m in another country,” he says.

IN THE BEGINNING

It was for this reason that David became the driving force in growing Soccer for Success in Syracuse so that kids of all levels and backgrounds had access to the game he loves. In the last two years, the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County has partnered with several Syracuse Parks and Recreation sites, Catholic Charities, as well as the school district and Onondaga Nation to implement Soccer for Success.

Dave Seburn of Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation & Youth Programs was eager to bring Soccer for Success to local community centers when he first learned about the program two years ago. “We thought we could benefit from it because we love to introduce new programs at all of our community centers,” he says.

Dave has also found that Soccer for Success is a great tool to bring people of all backgrounds together. “It's all over the board as far as who participates. Whether you’re Caucasian, African American, Asian...It’s so diverse,” but he also notes, “They all speak soccer…We give everyone an opportunity, no matter where you come from or where you live.”

At Franklin Elementary School, Soccer for Success has also become an important part of daily life for students. Chelsey, an administrator at the school and former teacher at another Soccer for Success site, Frasier School, saw first-hand how her students’ confidence grew through the program.

“Some of my kids who struggled all day long in the classroom because of the language barrier, they might not have anybody who spoke the same language as them,” she remembers of the time she taught English as a new language. “And then they were able to get involved in this soccer program and soccer is a universal language, so that’s when I really started to see these kids blossom and form relationships with other students because they shared that common love for soccer.”

Chelsey also maintains that Soccer for Success has not only provided her students with the chance to play the game they love but has also motivated them to do their best in school. “The program is predominantly immigrant students or first generation American. It’s really given them so many opportunities to be able to play soccer and love it…They want to be here every day and they want to do well because they want to participate in soccer.”

The YWCA was also able to form an important partnership with Onondaga Nation. In exchange for the use of Onondaga Nation’s state-of-the-art facilities, David and other members of the YWCA host Soccer for Success programming at the site. Little did David know that this partnership would open his eyes to a whole new possibility.

THE START OF SOMETHING NEW

In January 2018, YWCA Soccer for Success teams traveled to Onondaga Nation to play against one another at their first local tournament. It was there that David noticed how much untapped talent there was.

The next season, David started to offer extra training sessions and game opportunities for Soccer for Success participants who wished to play at the next level. Through various other community partnerships, David was able to field a team called Syracuse City FC made up of players from various Soccer for Success sites and set up scrimmages against local competitive teams, all at little to no cost for the participants.

“We have kids that have a lot of talent, but they’ve never been on a team before,” David explains. “We see this as opening doors for them just by giving them equal opportunity. That’s really our goal here, our vision.”

One community relationship formed with the CNY Family Sports Centre proved especially valuable. Dave Bove, the general manager and youth soccer director at the Centre, was eager to help David provide more soccer opportunities to his participants. Last season, the Syracuse City FC team was able to compete for the first time in a league at the CNY Family Sports Centre.

MORE THAN JUST A GAME

While David has a vision to provide all the soccer resources he can to his participants, he realizes that they gain more than just an extra soccer practice. “What’s most important is letting the kids know you’re there,” he says. “We focus more on what it means to be a teammate, what is good sportsmanship, what is it like to be supportive to your teammates…the importance of sacrifice, hard work, working for the team not for yourself.”

Dave Bove shares similar sentiments. “There are a few groups that really go out of their way to make sure the program is for the kids, and David is one of those guys,” he says. “Sports can be a great stream into something better. David is one of those guys that sees the bigger picture…It’s not just on the soccer field, but outside the soccer field.”

And Dave is not the only community member who supports David’s mission. “Here in the city, we don’t really have many rec soccer leagues for kids, and if there are, then it does cost money for families or for kids to participate in club programs. It is extremely expensive,” says Chelsey. “David is creating these opportunities which otherwise would not be there for these kids…starting with the Soccer for Success because that’s where the kids are learning the foundational skills.”

“Putting them into situations where they can play competitively and practice the skills that they’ve learned I think is a wonderful philosophy,” says David’s colleague and fellow Soccer for Success coach-mentor, Amanda. “Moving forward it’s a great addition to the program that is already fostering the confidence of the kids.”

The participants themselves have big aspirations too. “I want to get a good education at school and after I finish my education, I want to play in professional clubs and teams,” says 14-year-old Mervan, who moved to Syracuse from Turkey with his family.

Shamir, who is originally from Rwanda says, “I used to play goalkeeper, but I wasn’t that good – now I’m good. I dream of being a professional soccer goalkeeper.”

Going forward, David hopes that even more community members get to see the positive impact of the program and the importance of forming partnerships so that they can serve as a sustainable resource for children, regardless of income or background. “Ideally, we would be able to find some partnerships and be able to show that there’s alternatives to the pay-to-play model and with a little bit of community investment, you can create a lot of positive change,” he explains. “There are resources out there. It’s about being creative, innovative, and having the right message.”

Soccer for Success is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s after-school program, offered free to participants, that teaches children critical life skills and healthy habits through trained coach-mentors. Visit our website to learn how you can bring Soccer for Success to your community.

Comments

Mi hijo tiene 10 años ama el soccer y quisiera ese apoyo, pero no se como hacer para que el en u futuro haga su sueño realidad de jugar en grandes equipos de soccer. Por su colaboración y apoyo GRACIAS.

Jacqueline Martinez - February 20, 2019

Leave a Comment

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Share Your Support On Social

Tweet or post on Facebook and show the world that you believe in the power of sport.

Share Now