SOCCER IMPROVING LIVES: Community Soccer Field Developed at Atlanta Transit Station
The development of Atlanta’s new community soccer field at a downtown transit station has finished with sights set on local leagues and grassroots youth programs in the near future. Soccer in the Streets aims to make the new field a home for urban soccer with plans to develop similar projects inside or near ten other metro stations.
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Youth Soccer News: Soccer in the Streets, Atlanta United and MARTA unveiled ‘Station Soccer – Five Points’, a grassroots soccer project developed to provide life skills programs to Atlanta’s underserved communities. The innovative project represents the first soccer field developed inside the perimeter of a transit station in the world.
The unveiling of Station Soccer took place at the official launch of the Atlanta United Foundation (AUF), which aims to make soccer accessible and inclusive for individuals across Georgia. The Foundation’s first two projects enabled Soccer in the Streets to bring the beautiful game to the MARTA transit system, as well as to develop soccer programs with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) in communities on the westside of the city.
“Our MARTA Five Points project represents an opportunity for our youth to engage in programs where transportation may have been a limiting factor,” said Lauren Desmond, Soccer in the Streets’ Director of Coaching and Education. Desmond is also delighted with the program expansion: “thanks to the AUF, we have already implemented an after-school soccer program in six APS elementary schools that has served 240 children. The support of the AUF, APS, and local families are key factors in building a soccer culture on the west side.”
Soccer in the Streets hopes the new field becomes a home for youth soccer as the organization plans to replicate what has been done at Five Points inside or near ten other metro stations. “By building a network of communities around transit we are integrating youth and adults whilst we grow the soccer culture and giving access to all.” said Soccer in the Streets’ board member Sanjay Patel. “We do hope to make the vision of a league of stations become a reality”.
Renderings of Station Soccer – Five Points MARTA Station found here.
Soccer in the Streets will administer programming at Station Soccer, placing emphasis on youth development and community outreach through the beautiful game. Programming will include: establishing mentoring sessions, promoting employability among youth and developing grassroots soccer programs.
“Over the years, Soccer in the Streets has been working towards a sustainable and comprehensive program model that is an integral part of the community,”said Soccer in the Streets’ Chief Program Officer Jill Robbins. “By creating infrastructure and a ‘soccer culture’ we are better able to serve kids and their families throughout their years of involvement with their ‘soccer family.’”
As part of its new push for developing free youth programs, Soccer in the Streets is introducing adult leagues at Station Soccer, postulating a philanthropic side to competitive play. The money spent by adult teams at Station Soccer will help fund youth programs, establishing a unique sustainability model.
“Our organization is spearheading a social enterprise approach,” said Soccer in the Streets’ Executive Director Phil Hill. “In order to increase the reach of our free youth programs, we are determined to employ a sustainability model based on adult leagues, providing a great urban soccer experience for players”.
The unveiling of Station Soccer at the official Atlanta United’s Foundation launch welcomed Arthur Blank, owner of Atlanta United; Darren Eales, president, Atlanta United; Keith Parker, MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer; and Phil Hill, Soccer in the Streets’ Executive Director.
Station Soccer – Five Points MARTA Station includes turf and lighting infrastructure provided by GreenFields USA, Musco/Cree Lighting and the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
Photo Credit: Jose Devarez