New Jersey Youth Soccer Extends Community Outreach via Innovate to Grow Grant from U.S. Soccer
The Innovate to Grow Fund grants were awarded to U.S. Soccer Federation Members whose innovative programs show promise in building the sport of soccer at the grassroots level. NJ Youth Soccer was very excited to announce its acceptance of an Innovate to Grow Fund grant from U.S. Soccer and has created new and innovative outreach programs to grow the game of soccer.
New Jersey Youth Soccer has officially announced the addition of All Kids One Field (AKOF) as a member club through its Innovate to Grow (ITG) community outreach.
The Innovate to Grow Fund was introduced by the U.S. Soccer Federation in pursuit of its mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States. The initiative seeks to develop underserved soccer communities, with an overall focus on building the sport at the grassroots level.
“This game gives so much, and we know that when kids participate, great things happen,” said Chris Naspo, AKOF founder. “Combining efforts with NJYS to bring soccer to kids who may not have had the opportunity to play will result in stronger kids, communities and families.”
AKOF was started in March 2019 by Naspo and Will Smith, who wanted to use the game of soccer to create lifelong friendships for the youth in their community. As educators and soccer dads in Freehold, Naspo and Smith recognized the power of the sport to enact social change. Therefore, the duo created AKOF with a mission to bridge diverse community groups by promoting participation in local sporting events and wellness activities.
A key event by AKOF in 2020 was a “Soccer Night” that they sponsored at Park Avenue School in Freehold. The goal of the evening was to bring kids together to celebrate the game and introduce them to the AKOF program, and it turned out to be a tremendous success.
With help from the New York Red Bulls Freestyle Team, Monmouth University Men’s Soccer, Freehold High School Girls’ Soccer and the R.E.P.S program, more than 600 participants were provided quality instruction and entertainment. In addition to the performances and activities, AKOF also put together a health and information fair for the attendees.
“It has been such a pleasure working with AKOF and helping Chris and Will create real change with their program,” said David Ricca, NJYS ITG Project Consultant. “With ITG, it is so exciting talking daily to clubs and organizations to assess their needs and see how we can assist with our resources through U.S. Soccer’s grant.”
As an NJYS member club, AKOF hopes to reach kids and families who may be hesitant about getting involved in soccer, or who may not have the resources to play. With common goals to grow participation in the sport, AKOF believes that being an NJYS member club will help them provide a safe, friendly and meaningful opportunity for kids and families to begin playing soccer.
At the moment, AKOF is actively working to secure resources in order to fund future programs and expand the offerings of the organization, which includes the NJYS 4v4 Program this summer.
For more information about Innovate to Grow, please contact David Ricca, NJYS Innovate to Grow Consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact New Jersey Youth Soccer, please email email@example.com. Also make sure to follow us on social media: @NJYouthSoccer