Footy Focus: Street Soccer USA fills important role in San Francisco

FootySF has worked with the Bay Area chapter of Street Soccer USA for over 4 years now. In fact, every December we throw a fundraiser on their behalf. So if you’re not familiar with them, you should be, as they are just one of several soccer-related non-profits doing great work in the San Francisco-Bay Area community. We decided to give them a forum to talk about their work:

About Street Soccer USA
Since its inception in 2009, Street Soccer USA has been dedicated to the goal of driving measurable social change by improving the health, education and employment outcomes for the least served Americans.

Street Soccer USA’s programs utilize the sport of soccer, combined with social services programs, as a “strength-based” change vehicle that transfers necessary life skills so that individuals can achieve these outcomes for themselves. ​

Street Soccer USA provides safe places to play, supplying trained, caring coaches, and an evidence-based curriculum to ​build important skills, including communication, creativity, collaboration, self-confidence, independence and mutual respect for one’s self and others to encourage short and long-term positive changes in their lives.

In San Francisco and the Bay Area, Street Soccer USA operates three different programs, using the sport of soccer to engage with individuals that are the hardest to reach and least served.

The first of its programs is an after-school program which employs soccer-based life skills and social emotional learning curriculum. For example, SSUSA offers after-school soccer enrichment for underserved youth at five of the YMCA Buchanan Program Sites in the Western Addition of San Francisco.

The second is a community club program that works to a deeper level using more competitive oriented soccer engagement as a platform to build trusting relationships through a parent engagement model and off the field curriculum with all participants and their families. For example, SSUSA has a middle school and high school community club in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. Participants compete in local leagues, and have regular outings to visit different communities, participate job skills training opportunities, and get exposure to other new activities.

The third is an adult program that creates a community and delivers a life-skills curriculum for people experiencing homelessness or in recovery. The most committed adult program participants will fly to Philadelphia, PA this June to compete in the SSUSA National Cup at the base of the Rocky Steps. Combined, these programs impact more than 1000 individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area, and this number is on the rise locally and nationally.

Street Soccer USA fills an important niche by making soccer a possibility for marginalized youth, immigrants and refugees whose families are priced out of the pay-to-play model in the youth soccer scene. These programs promote personal empowerment by teaching SSUSA participants to be problem solvers in their individual lives and in their community. They are also a tremendous avenue for engaging with adults to provide a supportive community from which they can rise from their circumstances.

Street Soccer USA has innovated when it comes to sustainability by diversifying its funding sources. Besides receiving funds from Foundations like ESPN Corporate Citizenship and individuals donations, the organization has incorporated a social enterprise model by developing street soccer tournaments and adult recreational leagues to supplement income for programming resources and staff.

Some examples include the Street Soccer USA Cup Series (San Francisco hosts a Cup each summer- Union Square on August 5th and 6th), the I PLAY FOR adult amateur soccer leagues in San Francisco and New York City, and the Street Soccer USA Park (in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco) with its 4v4 leagues and drop-in tournaments. These social enterprises not only contribute to the social change programs that Street Soccer USA operates, but also provide environments for young professionals to facilitate new relationships.

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