Soccer is called the beautiful game for a reason. A game that transcends borders, cultural differences, and even developmental differences is worth being called just that. Soccer brings people together and builds community. Have you ever asked yourself: “How can I give back to the community through soccer?” Whether you are a parent, player, coach, referee, club board member, we all play a part in developing our local communities through the game of soccer.
The game teaches us important life lessons like teamwork, problem solving, hard work, and how to learn through failure. We are developing the next generation of people using soccer as a vehicle. But what are we doing beyond the touchline to extend an arm to reach and serve the community? Being community focused is a part of the DNA for many clubs. For us, at Red Bulls Youth Programs, it’s a part of ours.
To illustrate the importance of impacting community through youth soccer, we will draw on a few Red Bulls Official Youth Partner Clubs in Central and South NJ. Clubs such as Lawrence Hamnett SA, RSA (Robbinsville), Point Pleasant SC, and Cinnaminson SC play their part in creating a deeper impact in the community in their own unique ways.
Point Pleasant Soccer Club offers a comprehensive community focused program. “Like many other clubs, PPSC has a dedication to providing kids with a safe and fun environment to learn and love soccer”-Chris Lardieri – President, Point Pleasant Soccer Club. Along with a travel and pre-travel Mini Bulls program featuring Red Bulls training, the club offer a TOPSoccer program. TOPSoccer is an incredible initiative to provide soccer experiences to young people with special needs and it is one of the coolest programs to be a part of. Local TOPSoccer programs are always looking for volunteers to help with the operation of their programs. More information on TOPSoccer programs offered through NJYS.
Another example of making a community impact through soccer is one of the New York Red Bulls longest standing Official Youth Partners, Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association. LHSA has a rich history in Mercer County, dating back to when the club established in 1957. “To LHSA ‘community’ means bringing youth players together for a shared experience that helps them grow and develop now – and memories and relationships they will never forget later with soccer being the common denominator.” – Rico Scardaletti – President, Lawrence Hamnett SA. Through decades of history in the soccer community, Lawrence Hamnett SA are still focused on bringing people together. LHSA are another example of a club that offer a program experience focused around developing the next generation of people through soccer whether recreational, pre-travel, or travel programming.
Also located in Mercer County is another long-standing Official Red Bulls Youth Partner in Robbinsville, RSA. RSA offer a premium experience at a lower cost than other premier clubs. How does that tie into community impact? What you may not know about RSA is the impact on the community through player development. "RSA is designed for players looking to realize their highest potential with an eye towards a variety of goals; whether it's having fun playing recreationally or moving on to playing high school, collegiately, or professionally." - RSA Club President, Paul Gibeault. The 2022 State Championship winning team at Robbinsville High School featured 10 players who grew up playing club soccer in RSA being Red Bulls coached and trained. It all starts at the youngest ages where players can take part in pre-Travel or recreational programs, and either play on the travel side, or continue with recreational soccer through their journey.
One other great example of how youth soccer fosters a sense of community is through the connection between youth clubs and local businesses. To elaborate on this, you can check out how Cinnaminson Soccer Club engage with local businesses. CSC Commissioner Steve Mozi explained, “Local businesses are an important part of the community - they employ local people who are some of our biggest supporters. We believe that working with local businesses strengthens and enhances our community and helps foster relationships. Sponsorships quite simply are a key driver of revenue for the club which helps provide high quality of soccer for our players, while the local businesses make a positive contribution to our community and increase their brand awareness through our annual tournament and social media platforms.”
While these anecdotes pertain to a few clubs, our appreciation for the impact being had on the next generation across countless clubs in the tri-state cannot be understated. Thank you for the part that you play.
We want to know how YOU are making a community impact in youth soccer. Whether you are a parent, coach, board member, referee, or youth soccer superfan - drop us a comment in the Red Bulls Youth Programs Facebook group thread to add your contribution!