Winter 2024 (Public) | Page 4



For many years I have been interested in the creative vision of leaders in a wide variety of programs that are having a profound impact on the lives of people in the United States and around the world . These programs reach many who lack access to opportunities that so many others enjoy . These programs enhance entire communities and often become the inspiration for others to use their creative and entrepreneurial abilities to address needs of underserved populations .
I have been involved in the game as a player , coach , program developer , administrator and coach educator for over 60 years . Over this time I have been struck by a number of extraordinary people who are using soccer to create opportunity . It has led me to create a concept that I call The GREAT Program . The goal is to identify , promote , learn from and connect these programs .
GREAT stands for Grass Roots Educational , Accessible , Transformational
GREAT is an acronym . GR stands for Grass Roots , participants seeking their first experience in soccer which is the most important pathway to a lifetime in the game . It can also include those who wish to sustain their involvement . Its ideals are player-centered with FUN at its core . A broader definition is an environment which brings all together , regardless of age , gender , physical condition , race or ethnic origin . The programs identified here have been created to address those impacted by cost , accessibility or lack of a safe environment .
Educational represents the possibility of providing a multitude of learning opportunities within the program . Soccer is the catalyst that brings people together , but teaching and playing the game are not the only benefits .
Accessible is identifying barriers to coming together and overcoming them . It might be cost , limitations on travel , equity for all in the community and a host of other challenges .
Transformational is positively impacting change . It is often associated with improvement . In this context , it is the vision of bringing community members together , through soccer , to increase educational opportunities , provide access to programs and services and to positively change everyone involved ( players , coaches , parents , directors , educators , community services , local businesses , etc .).
My goal is to help identify these GREAT Programs and better understand the challenges that exist ; help identify and overcome barriers ; better address their needs ; better connect the individuals and communities that are doing the work ; and build stronger relationships within the soccer community .
have been fortunate to meet many fantastic individuals who have helped create a number of GREAT Programs . I have seen some of them in person . Examples of some are provided below . Many have developed websites and other information that is available online .
Soccer in the Streets – Atlanta . Access . Opportunity . Equity . Supporting underserved communities through the beautiful game . They have a vision that all children will have the opportunity to succeed on and off the field . They pursue leveling the playing field for all , affording access to the sport regardless of race , gender , religion or socio-economic status . They have created the StationSoccer™ project that helps break down transportation barriers by creating hubs for community engagement . www . soccerstreets . org
Soccer Without Borders – Boston . Serving newcomer and
immigrant youth to overcome barriers to participation in the Greater Boston Area through in-school , after-school , weekend and summer programs . The program serves over 500 participants from 20 countries with 44 % female participation and 50 % female coaches . They take a holistic approach , combining soccer , education and community . www . soccerwithoutborders . org
18th Ward – New Orleans . There are 10 different youth development programs for over 4,000 participants . The 18th Ward has created a pipeline of youth programs for ages 3-24 and uses soccer and other sports as vehicles to advance positive youth development , promote racial and gender equity , and build a stronger community . www . the18thward . org
Get on the Bus – Ellicott City , Maryland . Their mission is to break down financial and transportation barriers so that kids can play recreational soccer on a team in their community . They also address learning valuable life skills and good study habits through this free after-school program . The GOTB program strives to make this program accessible to as many as possible and currently serves nine communities through six programs . www . gotbsoccer . org
Uptown Soccer – Manhattan , New York City . Uptown Soccer is a grass roots program that provides free training and games for young people from the Washington Heights , Inwood , Harlem and Marble Hill neighborhoods . Uptown Soccer helps kids develop as soccer players , community members and as healthy , successful individuals . www . uptownsoccer . org
Notah Begay III Foundation – New Mexico . NB3FIT is a direct youth leadership and development program currently serving Native American and tribal communities in New Mexico . The JK and promotes individual player development and FUN . www . nb3foundation . org
Girls Leading Goals – San Francisco . Girls Leading Goals is the first-ever all-girls soccer organization with all women coaches . They have programs in the San Francisco Bay area and in LA and strive to build communities and develop strong female leaders . www . girlsleadinggoals . org
These are just a handful of GREAT Programs . Please take some time and become familiar with and help support these programs if you can .
We would like to hear from anyone who has knowledge of other unique Programs that are Grass Roots , Educational , Accessible and Transformational . n
Dr . David Carr United Soccer Coaches President Member since 1974