Soccer FC was created, as a response to the pay-to-play model that creates a major obstacle for children from low-income families who are trying to play sports. In Charlotte, only 20% of low-income youth have access to team sports, so from the beginning, our goal has been simple: give every child in Charlotte a chance to play soccer regardless of their background or socioeconomic status.
We do this by simply providing access to soccer. First, our program is completely free to all of our players and their families. We pay our coaches, provide every child with a jersey, and a soccer ball, at no cost to our Soccer FC families. Second, programming is held at our players’ elementary schools to help alleviate the transportation barrier. For 67% of our players, participating in Soccer FC programming at their school is the first time they’ve participated in youth sports.
Excellence in programming
At Soccer FC we believe that excellence in programming has everything to do with who’s coaching our players. We want to put someone in our players’ lives that they can count on, that is dependable, and who will continue to show up for them, week after week. We hire and pay coaches who are motivated to positively impact our players’ lives both on and off the field. We expect our best-in-class curriculum to be executed well so that each child we serve receives a top-tier experience.
Education Beyond the game
We use the game of soccer as a tool to promote literacy education. In low socioeconomic areas, 89% of children who can read proficiently in 3rd-grade graduate from high school. Unfortunately in CMS, only 39% of third-graders are reading on grade level, a pre-pandemic statistic. So knowing reading levels are a huge indicator of success, and knowing that more than half of CMS 3rd graders are not meeting that metric, we’ve taken the opportunity to weave literacy education into our curriculum during the two hours we spend with our players each week playing the game they love.
We aren’t trying to change our players reading levels but change their reading habits. We end each session by spending 15 minutes doing an active read-aloud, highlighting new vocabulary, and working on reading comprehension. We also let every player pick a book each week on their reading level that they are able to take home and keep to help build their home libraries. Each school year we give away over 10,000 books!
Finally, we want players to see their coaches with a book in their hands every day. We know there is something powerful about a child looking at their coach, who they respect and admire, sharing a story with them that they love. As our coaches share with their players their love of reading we’re tracking to see how that positively shapes the way they view reading.