If you’re wondering if Matthew Boden is a soccer fan, look no further than his dog. His name is Pelé. At age 13, Matthew is an eighth grader at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, MD and an active soccer player. When he’s not cheering for his beloved Philadelphia Eagles, playing tennis, or watching ESPN, he is most likely competing with his friends on the MSI Soccer Classic team, the Firebolts.
However, just playing wasn’t enough. Matthew had a stronger commitment to the game he loves, and that passion took shape in a philanthropic mission that is commendable for any person, much less an eighth grader.
With Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah on the horizon, he needed to figure out a project to give back to his community. With a little help from his parents, he discovered the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Passback Program, and dedicated himself to raising money and collecting soccer equipment, to be redistributed to less fortunate children around the world. He recruited his sister to help make posters and manage the donation box and “hired” his dad to oversee the project.
His efforts were a huge success. In addition to the numerous soccer balls, cleats, shin guards, socks, and water bottles that were collected, Matthew was able to raise nearly $2,000 for the U.S. Soccer Foundation and its Passback Program. All of the equipment was donated to the D.C. Street Soccer USA team which uses soccer to end homelessnes.
“I notified all the guests for my Bar Mitzvah that instead of giving me a present I would prefer they make a donation to help those in need through the Passback Program,” Boden said. Matthew understands the importance of giving back especially when it pertains to something he enjoys doing.
“My favorite sport is soccer,” said Boden “So I thought I might help donate to something I care about. I felt happy that I was able to help other people.”
Matthew continues to play soccer for the Firebolts, simply saying that he plays because, “it’s lots of fun.” That attitude, enjoyment, and satisfaction were all things that Matthew wanted to pass along, and he accomplished that goal by raising donations and collecting equipment. He summarized the Passback Program best by saying that he undertook this project, “so others less fortunate could play.”
When asked if he would help the U.S. Soccer Foundation in the future, Matthew said, “If they need me.”
There is always a need for this service, not only to help the U.S. Soccer Foundation, but to grow and expand the game as whole. Sometimes, the best stories come from those who just do what they love and Matthew Boden is the shining example of that adage. Through his desire to help less fortunate children play soccer he set an example that speaks volumes beyond his years.