Soccer may become the hottest new fall sport in North Philadelphia.
Street Soccer USA, a non-profit whose mission is to fight poverty and empower communities by expanding access to sports, debuted its first “Soccer for Social Change” field in Juniata Wednesday evening.
The $100,000 project was implemented in hopes of encouraging inner city kids to play soccer and bringing people together.
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“Our ultimate vision is to use soccer as a means to connect communities,” said Lawrence Cann, Founder and CEO of Street Soccer USA [SSUSA]. “It’s a sport that breaks cultural barriers. People play for the experiences and positive environment, and build trust with shared experiences.”
SSUSA partnered with Comcast [NBC10’s parent company] and Kensington Soccer Club to make the field’s construction possible.
“We both have similar missions where we use soccer to advance the community and train the youth on health, nutrition, education, and leadership,” said Jim Hardy, founder of the local club.
The Kensington Soccer Club gets primary use of the new field, which will also be available to the community.
Both soccer organizations embrace the pay-what-you-can model of youth sports so anyone who wants to can join. As a result, the Kensington Soccer Club’s fall program is the biggest it’s ever been with over 1,000 kids enrolled — compared to about 300 kids on average.
“Soccer is such an easy game to play, but people need an easy means of access,” Cann said. “That’s why we build community clubs that are free. We just ask for people to get devoted.”
The Kensington Soccer Club runs leagues from ages 2 to 19 years old. If you or someone you know is interested in signing up, you can call at 267-850-1332 or email the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at 5 p.m. Wednesday and was open to the public. North Philly native and WBC welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia attended the event, located at the new field at 3781 Jasper Street.