#SoccerSpeakUSA Summary – ‘Soccer As A Vehicle For Social Change’

It is widely recognized that sport and particularly the global appeal of soccer can make a big difference in communities, bringing people together on an even playing field irrespective of race, color, creed, ethnic or national origins, gender, marital status, sexuality, disability or age.

Sport is a true world language and in this weeks Twitter Chat it was time to tap into the creativity and commitment that some grassroots champions are displaying on a daily basis, in their local communities and impacting on the lives of those (in most cases) less fortunate than themselves.

To those that are unfamiliar with the #SoccerSpeakUSA chats – each week we provide a summary of the chat for those that missed it including the top posts from each question. We also announce a weekly ‘Tweeter of the Week’ who will be featured in this summary and goes to the person Soccer Support feels gave the best insights and responses during the hour and embodied what #SoccerSpeakUSA is setting out to achieve.

WEEK 4 SUMMARY

Q1. What non-profit organizations are making a real difference in our communities using soccer as their platform?

@FlashSoccerCEO  I recognize @KickforHope for the non-profit work they do in San Diego.

@futboldaddy In the U.S, I think @streetsoccerUSA @americascores are doing amazing things working with the homeless & youth after school. Also depends on the issue but I love what @gay4soccer is doing about homophobia & @kickitout re: racism

@j83out I like the work @travelwithballs is doing, just watched their video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xRBLL-hxqE

We then posed a supplementary question to pinpoint what social change actually meant to people.

How would you define social change in the 21st century? Is it still local, more globally focused or a mix of the two?

@IT2theDLeon Social change should begin locally with a global vision to assure scaleable implementable change

@travelwithballs A mix – global and local are simply two sides of the same coin

From organizations that help communities off the field to those that spend most of their time on it…

Q2. Do you have examples of pro clubs that are addressing major social disadvantage through community outreach?

@futboldadddy The Portland Timbers @timbersFC contributed over $250,000 to the community in 2011.

@chandrimatweets as a part of MLS W.O.R.K.S, @PhilaUnion does Chester First – youth outreach, field development, etc

And it isnt just clubs that are flying the flag for change. Players are also stepping up to use their influence for the betterment of society…

@LBC4 players @EmmersonBoyce @chriswondo @JebBrovsky @ClydeSimms19 are doing selfless things one act at a time

While clubs & players had their own local initiatives it was noted that administrators also played a big role in cultivating community projects through their foundations. Examples of this included the @ussoccerfndn calling for projects for their Social Innovation Fund in October & the @CSSFoundation opening their medium matching grants for projects up to $10k tomorrow (1st March 2012)

Discussion then moved to the grants available and whether there was a national community guide that mentioned all the projects running, their contacts and grants available etc. It was agreed that the option of creating such a document would be explored further but understanding it was a huge project that required collaboration with bodies like US Soccer & the NSCAA. Soccer Support will be leading the charge on this one…

Q3. What strategies do you/your organization use to recruit volunteers?

From a clubs perspective – @FlashSoccerCEO We mostly use social media to recruit volunteers for soccer

From a fans perspective – @justkhoai Before I volunteer, I usually read mission and goals. I like that organizations communicate w/ their volunteers clearly! What can viewers of the game do to help these non-profit groups?

And in response – @chandrimatweets help raise awareness of the issues — a little goes a long way! spread the word, come to events, volunteer!

It was widely agreed that social media was a game changer for organizations interested in finding people that want to help in soccer based programs. Using hashtags such as #GrowTheGame can help you identify those that are proactive in helping expand the outreach of the sport. Remember its not what you know, but who you know – networking is important!

Q4. Do you think more investment in low socioeconomic communities will help #GrowTheGame & address important social issues?

@brandiortega Q4. Yes. Its a must to invest in lower socioeconomic areas. Untapped & overlooked soccer potential.

@backseatgaffer My project (blueprinted): using game to get urban players collegiate playing opportunities and degrees.

Investment was also mentioned in the context of incentives and showing local kids the pathways to professional aspects of the game as a way out of current disadvantage.

@MindOfAbram The reason behind the enormous growth of basketball in the 70s and 80s, which made the NBA huge in the 90s, was $. Money is a huge incentive for kids in lower socioeconomic communities. Until kids in poor rural & urban communities see soccer as a financially viable solution it’ll be hard to convince them to play, respect, and love the sport.

For the last ten minutes of the chat tweeps were invited to plug their local community soccer projects…

@CarolinaHookMan: Dont forget those w/physical challenges as well. Getting on the pitch can change their life.

@CarolinaHookMan is involved with The American Amputee Soccer Association – for more info check out www.ampsoccer.org

@futboldaddy also encouraged users to check out http://cansoccersavetheworld.com and invited people to get their social change project added to his comprehensive database of community programs. One of those suggested was http://www.atlapa.org/ – make sure you let Chris know of any other organization out there in the U.S. doing great things with a soccer ball!

SUMMARY

This week was a shining example of why Soccer Support exists and why #SoccerSpeakUSA was created as a forum to bring like-minded individuals together. Speaking passionately about organizations that are helping the most disadvantaged Americans and in some cases speaking about organizations that have helped them personally, it was clear that a lot of good people still exist within our communities.

We also saw the power of bringing people together in an environment where ideas and skill sharing is encouraged. The suggestion of a compendium of all things soccer – projects, funding streams etc is something that has the power to #GrowTheGame in positive ways. There are thousands of $$$ and hundreds of support structures out there in the U.S. and bringing them together in one handy document will be just another step forward in our quest to help soccer realize its potential in the U.S. Exposure is one of the keys to unlocking this multi-layered puzzle.

#GROWTHEGAME TWEETER OF THE WEEK

And so that brings us to the #GrowTheGame Tweeter of the week…this week we had to hand it to @futboldaddy who shared with us his wealth of knowledge and networks on change agents across the U.S. – and giving insights on how the great work he has started can be embraced by other volunteers to help soccer make an impact at the grassroots level. Chris has won the right to promote a particular blog, website or team and she can redeem this prize by emailing info@soccersupport.us or sending @SoccerSupport a DM through Twitter with the details.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK…

#SoccerSpeakUSA returns next week (3/7/12) at the regular time and day of Wednesdays at 4:30pm PST and 7:30PM EST.

The conversation doesn’t stop there though. Fans across the country are encouraged to use the #GrowTheGame hashtag during the week to be linked with other like-minded people and talk all thing soccer.

If you would like more info on #SoccerSpeakUSA, Soccer Support, our #GrowTheGame project or perhaps to submit question 4 for next week email info@soccersupport.us

See you all next week!

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