Friday, May 4, 2007

JT's Blog - Urban Soccer Programs Collaborative - May 4

JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

On the weekend of April 26-28 together with 14 organizations such as: U.S. Soccer Foundation, Starfinders, Soccer in the Street, America Scores, The Eddie Pope Foundation and The Fugiees Family. We wrote a small but very important piece of U.S. Soccer History. No, we didn’t put together the best Olympic Development Program team or the next U.S. Under-18 National team or pick players for the next MLS draft players. This group working as a collaborative agreed that working together would make the most difference and impact in the lives of young soccer players, especially in the underserved communities.

Thursday, April 26 we discussed:
- The Vision, Mission
- Values and Beliefs
- Structure and Governance

Friday, April 27 we discussed:
- The Institute of Urban Soccer Leadership
- The collection and distribution of best practices
- Identified opportunities for collaborative professional development, and positive youth development/soccer programs and events.
- We identified strategies to communicate and raise awareness of urban soccer programming and events.

Saturday, April 28 we discussed development/fundraising:
- Identified potential sources of larger funding that can better leverage as a collaborative
- Discussed fundraising challenges, concerns, and strategies to overcome them
- Discussed ways that the collaborative could support and help individual organizations achieve operational excellence
- Reviewed and evaluated the conference.

Over the three days our discussion found that teaching the skills to the players and the character component might be easy, but the academic component of the program could be an obstacle. Perhaps some type of academy will be needed to address this area. The collaborative will not be a talent identification system, although some will most likely move towards travel teams, select and ODP. This would be an excellent opportunity for those that do. I came away from the conferences believing those in attendance believed it should be the effort of every association and/or organization to promote the message that it’s the responsibility of every soccer club/team/program to have a local community outreach element.

US Youth Soccer has the Soccer Start Program. Its initiative is to supply the template for clubs to set up programs in both inner city and rural areas trying to connect these clubs with state association.

The collaborative can be a positive choice where soccer skills are an analogy for life skills. Now for the challenging but even more exciting phase. To turn our collective ideas into an organization that works, and leads to significant, sustainable impact in our underserved soccer communities for the Good of The Game.

Proposed Name: The Urban Youth Collaborative
(Effecting Positive Change through Soccer)

Make a Positive Impact on Society through Soccer

Mission: Support and promote youth soccer programs in underserved communities through a cooperative platform designed to provide opportunities and resource standards of excellence.

Value and beliefs: Integrity, Diversity, Fun, Pride and Teamwork

The commitment to make this collaborative a reality and how far we take it will depend on us. The match is about to begin, so if you have any ideas, suggestions or questions then please comment.

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