Along with Players First, the U.S. Soccer Foundation believes in the importance of creating holistic sports-based programming that addresses more than the talent on the field and helps every player achieve their full potential.
Soccer for Success is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s evidence-based group mentoring program designed to foster healthy lifestyles and character development among children. Trained coach-mentors teach the fundamentals of soccer and use the game to help build confidence and teach the importance of teamwork, hard work, and persistence in achieving goals.
Soccer for Success coach-mentor Geo understands the impact a coach can have on a player’s development as an athlete and student. “My coaches taught me a lot about life,” said Geo. “They taught me about having a good work ethic, nutrition and self-discipline to never give up.”
Now, he uses those same lessons with his Soccer for Success team. “I like being able to mentor the kids. It is not only the coaching part, but helping them with all parts of life,” said Geo.
Geo’s experience as a coach-mentor has taught him that when it comes to learning best practices for coaching and mentoring, a coach is never done. Prior to each season, coach-mentors participate in local training sessions, where they are introduced to the Soccer for Success curriculum for the programming year. They collaborate on best practices and address solutions to potential challenges. Afterwards, coach-mentors enter the new season prepared for a successful season of programming.
By incorporating mentorship into the program, players are provided with the guidance and tools to succeed on and off the field. For players like Kap, having a coach-mentor who was invested in his growth made all the difference on the soccer field and in the classroom.
Before joining Soccer for Success, Kap found himself constantly frustrated in school and during soccer. When assignments did not make sense or he was not in control of the ball, he would act out. When he joined his Soccer for Success team, his coach-mentor recognized this and worked with him to learn ways to resolve his frustration. By the end of season, Kap successfully worked with his teachers to accomplish his school work and work collaboratively with his teammates on the field.
As players learn the game of soccer, they also develop life skills that they can take back and teach their family and communities. Olympia is a mother of four, an elementary-school teacher, and a Soccer for Success coach-mentor. As a parent and coach-mentor, she knows that the program is much more than an after-school program, and that the role of the family is integral to the success of the program and development of the kids.
“Parents are excited that their children get to be part of the program and that children get the chance to play, play, play,” said Olympia. “I do not only teach my team about the benefits of nutrition, but I also work with their family members to encourage healthy living beyond the boundaries of the soccer field.”
By engaging family members in the program, Olympia has seen the full circle reflected in the growth of her team. It has encouraged everyone, from parents to community members, to understand and value the youth soccer experience, focusing on the health and development outcomes, rather than the final score of the game.
Soccer for Success gives every child the opportunity to play soccer, work with a dedicated coach-mentor, and learn to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is committed to using soccer as the driving factor to provide holistic programming for players, which allows them to reach their full potential on and off the field. This philosophy aligns with US Club Soccer’s Players First initiative.
To learn more about Soccer for Success, click here.