Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson and the LA84 Foundation partnered on August 14 to celebrate the launch of Street Soccer USA’s pilot program in Los Angeles. Street Soccer USA aims to fight poverty and empower underserved communities through soccer by providing free-of-cost access to youth sports, with the LA program expecting to have nearly one-third of its team members be youth experiencing homelessness. The Los Angeles pilot program is being established in part thanks to a $75,000 grant from the LA84 Foundation.
The event was made possible in part by Council President Wesson and took place at the LA84 Foundation headquarters. Participating youth were from the Children’s Institute, Street Soccer USA’s first on-the-ground partner and a non-profit organization serving over 22,000 children in mental health, early education and foster youth programs throughout Los Angeles. The event featured a press conference, games, soccer drills, speakers and a check presentation.
The Los Angeles Unified School District notes that over 15,000 of its students are homeless at any given time. This number is not static, and many more youth and families live on the verge of homelessness at all times or experiencing homelessness for a period of time once or more during a given year in Los Angeles County.
Council President Wesson has presided over policy initiatives addressing this issue, including the passage of Measure HHH in 2016 to allocate over $1.2 billion to homeless services, as well as Measure H in March 2017.
“It’s up to us to push the envelope, not protect the status quo, when it comes to finding ways to support and empower our city’s vulnerable youth,” said Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson. “This innovative program will not only provide young members of our community with access to sport, but it will also teach them to be determined, courageous and ambitious on and off the field.”
Street Soccer USA’s Street Soccer LA Pilot Program creates front-end engagement through community soccer clubs targeting the least-served youth and young adults in Los Angeles, including homeless youth. Employing a sport-for-development methodology, the program promotes soccer-based life skills and a social emotional learning curriculum, which teaches eight progressive life and job readiness skills with age-appropriate content. The goal of the curriculum is personal empowerment by teaching participants to be problem solvers in their individual lives and in their community.
“The LA84 Foundation thanks Council President Wesson for his leadership on this issue,” said LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril. She added: “The transformational power of sport is saving lives in our communities. The physical and emotional benefits of sport and structured play gives kids confidence and hope, and the LA84 Foundation strongly supports programs like Street Soccer USA providing #PlayForAll access to improve the quality of life for our youth who need it most.”
“We believe in the promise of our community and all it as members. We believe that relationships change lives and in the unique power of soccer to create those relationship. We want to thank the LA84 Foundation and Herb Wesson for showing up for the community. Together we will help realize the promise of our participants starting this Fall and over the long term,” said Rob and Lawrence Cann, Founders of Street Soccer USA.
See additional photos from the event.