Growing Youth Soccer: How Well Do You Connect with Your Community?

As we saw on Saturday, October 15th when 64,000 plus fans watched Kasey Keller play his last regular-season home game at CenturyLink Field, the soccer community in Washington is passionate and growing fast! This wave of soccer enthusiasm paired with an increase in the youth population in our state means that our youth soccer community could experience a boom in registration if we work more closely with our local communities.

Did you know that according to the US Census Bureau and the 2010 census, the youth population of Washington State (aged 19 years and under) has expanded and diversified in the past 10 years? In fact, the youth population grew by 91,000 in the last 10 years and it is projected to grow by 125,000 by 2030, with approximately 25% this population coming from non-Caucasian backgrounds! This means that we have a unique opportunity to get more kids involved and playing youth soccer if we can connect them to our programs and services.

How can we connect more players from all communities to our current Clubs and Associations? Be creative! Start by reaching out to cultural groups/community centers in your Club or Association’s boundaries. Support the needs of teachers and schools by offering local soccer resources and training so children are being exposed to more soccer in their PE classes. Have a modern and easy to navigate webpage to make it easy for potential players and their families to find youth soccer opportunities through your organization.

These are just a few ways to help connect the growing youth soccer community to your program. Below are more ideas to help grow your membership and serve your community through outreach:

  • Create materials in languages that are prevalent in your neighborhood
  • Host a youth soccer day and invite local groups to participate
  • Provide a soccer clinic at local community centers
  • Sponsor a team from a local community center into your tournament
  • Have teams hold a training session at community centers and invite center youth to participate
  • Provide programs like Soccer in Schools or TOPSoccer
  • Encourage teams to fundraise for local youth-based community groups.

These are only some examples of ways to connect the growing soccer community and youth population to your Club/Association as players, coaches or volunteers. As you begin to think about how your Club/Association can build community relationships and promote youth soccer opportunities, check out the Programs Tab at WashingtonYouthSoccer.org for more information on our community programs.

If you have any questions or tips on how you build your local soccer community,  let us know in the comment section below – we would love to hear how you connect yourself to the local community!

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About Heather Turney

Heather Turney joined WA Youth Soccer in January 2011 and is the Member Services and Outreach Coordinator. Heather coordinates our outreach programs (TOPSoccer, Soccer in Schools, Soccer Across Washington) and supports the department’s work on assembling best practices. She is experienced as a community facilitator and has been instrumental in linking our outreach programs with new communities and other nonprofit organizations. As we strive to link our member organizations with under-served populations and local communities, Heather leads us towards fulfilling our mission of making soccer the game for all kids.
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