“Over the last four years, Project GOAL has completely changed my life around and made a difference,” said Miguel Lara, a sophomore at Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Miguel joined Project GOAL when he was in sixth grade and was one of the youngest and most inexperienced soccer players to enroll in the program.
“I barely knew anybody, but I just knew this program was going to help me out and bring many opportunities for me in the near future,” said Miguel.
Through support from the staff at Project GOAL, Miguel was able to overcome his family’s financial obstacles and achieve his goal of attending a private school, which would ultimately help him become accepted into college.
Based in Rhode Island, Project GOAL’s mission is to facilitate the development of disadvantaged youth through after-school tutoring and soccer-related programs. The organization focuses on development through soccer with a main goal of establishing successful students rather than premiere athletes.
Project GOAL currently operates its after school soccer program for sixth, seventh and eighth grade children from Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls. The program is provided at no charge to the participants. Students “earn” time on the soccer field by exhibiting good schoolwork habits.
“The focus of our program is realizing the importance of reaching your potential as a person,” said co-founder and Executive Director, Darius Shirzadi. “We place the most importance on the academics, but we also help kids realize what it is to be a responsible and respectful person.”
“A combination of academics and passion for soccer at Project GOAL are important things to the administration,” said Miguel. “The intelligent teachers strive to make sure the students excel in all of their classes and progress throughout the year. Maintaining good grades and positive conduct are keys to being successful with the program.”
With a Program Grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Project GOAL was able to deflect some of its biggest costs, and as a result, allow more kids to benefit from the organization.
“The grant has helped us gain some added recognition and credibility,” said Shirzadi. “It helped us defray the costs of transportation for over one year. This is a huge burden off our budget and has allowed us to hire more teachers and let more kids in the program.”
According to Shirzadi, Miguel’s experience is not unique to Project GOAL. “We have served over 400 children in the last six years. We have never charged a dime to any child in being part of the program.”
Take Kevin Gil for example, a sophomore at The Wheeler School in Providence, R.I. He too was given the chance to enhance his academics and improve his soccer capabilities through Project GOAL.
“Project GOAL provided me with many opportunities that set me on the right path to a bright and successful future,” said Kevin. “They allowed me to receive help on my studies after school and they allowed me to tryout for the Rhode Island Olympic Development Program (ODP), which is the state select team. I tried out and made the team. I played for two years and then decided to focus even more on my studies.”
Project GOAL provided Kevin with tutoring and helped him secure financial aid, which helped him become accepted into The Wheeler School in Providence, R.I. In addition, the organization gave him SAT tutoring to help him prepare for the college entrance exam.
“I would have never been able to make it this far if it wasn’t for Project GOAL and for that I am very grateful to all of those who are involved with this program,” said Kevin.
The testimonies of Kevin and Miguel are just two examples of how soccer can lead to development both on the field and in the classroom. Without the help of Project GOAL, these two might have never been able to witness their true potentials.
Learn more about U.S. Soccer Foundation and its grants. Donate to help support more programs like Project Goal.