ADIDAS AND U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION TO LAUNCH FREE NEIGHBORHOOD SOCCER LEAGUES TO INCREASE ACCESS TO SOCCER

New Just Ball League will utilize mini-pitches for competitive league play that prioritizes fun, friendship, and inclusivity, starting in NYC and LA this fall

May 17, 2022 – To continue to chip away at barriers and level the playing the field, adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation today announced that they will launch new free, competitive neighborhood soccer leagues in New York City and Los Angeles this fall.

That’s because despite slight gains in youth sports participation over the past year, youth living in low-income households and Hispanic and Black youth still lag behind their more affluent and white peers when it comes to playing sports on a regular basis, according to the latest Project Play report released in October 2021 by the Aspen Institute.

The new Just Ball League will be free to participants and hyper-localized, using the mini-pitch infrastructure that adidas, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and other partners have created over the past six years. The mini-pitches will serve as league hubs, providing state-of-the-art spaces for play that are easily accessible in neighborhoods across both cities.

At its core, the Just Ball League will work to provide fair, balanced, and equitable access to the sport of soccer while breaking down barriers, such as transportation and cost, that often stand in the way of children from underserved communities being able to play.

The league will utilize coaches as stewards of play and instill a sports-based youth development ethos that prioritizes fun in a competitive environment. Most importantly, the Just Ball league will focus on inclusion and belonging—using soccer as a vehicle to unite people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Weekly league matches will also further embed pick-up culture into the community and maximize the usage of the mini-pitches.

“The Just Ball League will be the latest addition to the adidas Football Collective (aFC),” said Ellie Gail, Senior Director of the Soccer Business Unit at adidas North America. “aFC is our brand’s global soccer community platform whose mission is to tear down barriers, create opportunities, and enable anyone to experience the beautiful game.”

“Mini-pitches have literally transformed the landscape of communities and have been critical in providing greater access to the game by removing transportation barriers in underserved areas,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We’re excited to use these mini-pitches to advance play equity by supporting free, competitive league play that will continue to create opportunities for children in underserved communities. This new league will also help us increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in our game. The Just Ball League brings us one step closer to creating a future where everyone who wants to play, can.”

The first season of the Just Ball league will take place in fall 2022 with the second season slated to kick off in spring 2023. The Just Ball League will be free for youth, and adidas will provide kits and equipment to further reduce any cost or equipment barriers.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation plans to work with longtime community partners to run the league in each market, including the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) in NYC. The partnering community organizations will work to ensure the coach-mentors who help lead the league reflect the communities of the kids they are supporting.

More than 10,000 youth will participate in the Just Ball League during the first two seasons. Each season, the Just Ball League will culminate in a city-wide cup that will celebrate soccer and its ability to unite people from different backgrounds. These city-wide cups aim to bring together the players and families as well as fans and local community members to celebrate the end of each season. These events may incorporate other activations around the 2022 and 2023 FIFA World Cups, of which adidas is a sponsor.

The launch of the Just Ball League builds on a longtime partnership between adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. Together, the two organizations have made great strides to improve access to the game of soccer and use the sport to transform and improve children’s lives in underserved communities. The two organizations have created more than 100 mini-pitches together and are actively working to engage and retain more girls in soccer and train more women coach-mentors through the United for Girls initiative. adidas also continues to support the Foundation’s signature Soccer for Success program that helps children establish positive social, emotional, and physical health behaviors and skills. Designed for children ages 6-14, the program is offered at little or no cost to participants and their families.

For more information about the U.S. Soccer Foundation and its programs, visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org.

ABOUT U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

MEDIA CONTACT
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
jarnold@ussoccerfoundation.org; 202-872-6662

 

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OUR PARTNERS

adidas

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.

CHA

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

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit SportsMatter.org.

GEICO

GEICO

GEICO is committed to impacting local communities through Educational programs, Community Development projects and Equity & Inclusion initiatives. To date, GEICO has donated to 7,000+ charities and averaged between $6 and $8 million in annual giving over the last two decades. To learn more about GEICO’s commitment to the community please visit www.geico.com/about/in-the-community.

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives

Genesis Gives is a corporate social responsibility initiative from Genesis Motor North America. Expanding on the brand’s commitment to the highest standards of performance and its athletic elegance design identity, Genesis Gives supports nonprofit organizations with the goal of improving access to, and performance in, youth sports and STEAM education in under resourced communities.

Kwik Goal

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.

Miami Children's Trust

Miami Children's Trust

The Children’s Trust supports Soccer for Success programming in South Florida. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.

MLS WORKS

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

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

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

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.

 

 

 

Target

Target

Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 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.

Telemundo

Telemundo

The U.S. Soccer Foundation and Telemundo are joining efforts to advance soccer as a means for helping children in underserved communities reach their full potential, including supporting the Foundation’s signature Soccer for Success youth program, which provides free or low-cost soccer programs during and after school at more than 250 sites nationally. Telemundo will also serve as the first official and exclusive Spanish-language media partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. For more information visit https://www.telemundo.com/el-poder-en-ti.

TGI Worldwide

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

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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