As a Programs Coordinator involved in all things “Programs,” late summer/early fall is primarily devoted to training the amazing coach-mentors across the country that are involved in our Soccer for Success program. From hosting over 300 coaches during the National Coaches Training in July, to spending long hours at the office in August to support the creation of training content and materials for the local trainings that take place in September, things have been pretty busy here at the Foundation. During September alone, I assisted in training over 170 coach-mentors in Atlanta, Los Angeles, El Monte, Kansas City, and New Orleans!
The goal of these trainings is to prepare our Soccer for Success coach-mentors for their upcoming seasons and to ensure that they are ready to make a lasting positive impact on the lives of the youth and communities that they serve. This is certainly an important task and not one that I take lightly, but throughout these trainings I couldn’t get the Urban Soccer Symposium out of my mind! As I visited Soccer for Success communities all across the country and interacted with organizations committed to using soccer for positive social change, I was reminded of the importance of not only providing training for coach-mentors, but of providing an opportunity for like-minded organizations to enhance their capacities, network with one another, and share best practices. In light of recent incidents and stories that have painted a negative image of the sports world, I feel more strongly than ever that we need to utilize sport as a tool for youth development and positive social change.
Last year’s Symposium hosted over 200 sports-based youth development programmers, as well as competitive soccer clubs, who came together for a four-day event that included keynote speakers (among them, former U.S. Women’s National Team member Michelle Akers and Founder & CEO of KaBOOM!, Darell Hammond), breakout sessions and workshops, a full day dedicated to advocacy on Capitol Hill, and the inaugural NSCAA Urban Soccer Coaching Diploma course.
Directly following the conclusion of the 2014 Symposium, we started planning for the 2015 Symposium, which is only 6 months away! From April 16-19, we will fill the Washington Marriott-Georgetown with individuals representing organizations tirelessly working to use sport as a catalyst for positive youth development in under-resourced communities throughout the country – and I couldn’t be more excited! I hope that you attend next spring and join the soccer for social change movement. The youth of today need you!