By Ryan Bailey

Charlotte FC’s community partners are helping low-income families with soccer-based programming

CHARLOTTE—As part of Charlotte FC and Ally’s commitment to supporting youth soccer, the organizations are working with local non-profit foundations to provide goals in schools and community areas.

The youth soccer goals will be used to help facilitate after-school programming for low-income and at-risk children in the greater Charlotte area, when such programming resumes.

“These goals are so cool because we’re putting them in the communities that really need them,” says Katie Phillips, Executive Director of the Soccer Foundation of Charlotte (Soccer F.C.). “They’re located in schools and near parks. We’re not just investing in the kids in our program, but in the community as a whole.”

Since 2017, Soccer F.C. has provided free after-school programming to children at or below the poverty line, while giving help and support to their families and communities. Their programming is scheduled to resume in mid-March, and they aim to serve over 250 children at 11 CMS Title 1 Elementary schools by spring. For now, the goals are being used by school children during recess or outside of school hours.

“Previously in our programming, we used pop-up pod goals on open fields,” says Phillips. “Now, we’re making these spaces better for everyone.”

Not only are the children in Soccer F.C.’s programming developing critical life skills and building confidence, but their enthusiasm for the beautiful game is growing.

“The kids are out-of-their-mind excited about an MLS team coming!” says Phillips. “They have already received donations of training kit and merchandise, and they feel a lot of pride to be able to wear the crest on their chests.”

On the west side of the city, the Creative Player Foundation has provided after-school programming to at-risk urban communities since 2014. Its co-founder Daniel Aruajo—a former player and FIFA-licensed agent—has had to make several changes to the program in the past year to best serve the community:

“When the pandemic started, we moved our programming online,” says Aruajo. “Since August, local children who have the most needs have been using our facilities full-time. We help with WiFi for remote learning, we provide meals and we offer physical activities.”

The children in the program have been using the goals, in addition to adidas MLS soccer balls provided by the club.

“In the schools we work with, which feature many low-income families, more than 50% of children are failing their school year,” says Araujo. “We’re very thankful for the support and glad we can provide a little help for these families.”