Monday, February 12, 2018 — The Washington Youth Soccer Foundation today announced it was awarded a $114,659 grant through the King County Parks Youth and Amateur Sports Grant Fund to support Soccer for Success programs serving King County youth. Soccer for Success is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s free, after-school soccer program proven to help youth establish healthy habits and develop critical life skills. The grant will support the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation in reaching more than 1200 youth living in underserved areas of South King County over the next two years.
“The Washington Youth Soccer Foundation is proud to receive an award from King County Parks to support the Soccer for Success program in South King County,” said Murray Vince, President of the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation. “Soccer for Success is an innovative approach to removing barriers to youth sports and the benefits that physical activity brings youth – on and off the field. In partnership with King County Parks, we are committed to improving the well-being of children in underserved South King County communities.”
The Soccer for Success program in Washington has grown more than fifty per-cent since the 2016-2017 school year, growing from nine to 14 program sites over the past year. More than 800 youth participate in two twelve-week seasons each year, receiving mentorship from caring coach-mentors and learning about healthy nutrition through soccer activities.
Youth of color and youth from low-income communities benefit most from Soccer for Success programs in Washington State, with more than 80% of players identifying as youth of color and more than 75% qualifying for the federal free-and-reduced price meals program.
A national evaluation of Soccer for Success found that 88 percent of participants work better on a team, 86 percent stay away from anti-social behaviors and 72 percent try harder in school. Eighty-three percent of children at greater risk for health issues improved or maintained their health. The Department of Justice also cited the program’s unique ability to engage and retain youth who may not enter or stay in a traditional mentoring relationship.
Founded in 2016, the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation was established to create equitable access to youth soccer for children in communities across the state, with a focus on underserved youth and communities. Through outreach programs like Soccer for Success and transforming concrete spaces into small soccer courts, the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation is working to support youth who face barriers in the pay-to-play youth sports system and the community need for safe, healthy activities for youth.
“With the support of King County Parks, we will narrow the gap between our after-school programs and traditional youth soccer clubs through scholarships for Soccer for Success players to register with local recreational soccer leagues, reducing the financial barriers for players interested in growing their development through soccer,” said Hillary Beehler, Executive Director of the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation. “We now have the opportunity to build pathways to soccer for youth who may not have played organized sports before. We can begin bridging the gap in the pay-to-play club system - a unique opportunity in youth sports in the United States.”
The Washington Youth Soccer Foundation currently partners with Seattle Public Schools, Highline Public Schools, Kent School District, Auburn School District, Mukilteo School District, and Yakima School District to offer the Soccer for Success program at fourteen elementary schools.
For more information on the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation, and the Soccer for Success program, visit WAYouthSoccerFoundation.org.