It is often assumed that youth in all communities have access to organized sports, a critical component for developing healthy habits. However, youth in low-income, underserved communities often do not participate in organized sport leagues for three main reasons: cost, parental work schedules, and lack of transportation. To overcome these barriers, Balón USA partners with schools and communities to offer free soccer programming at local elementary schools.
We believe that soccer can strengthen communities. We offer workshops where families learn about their role in youth sports and child development. We develop community leadership by engaging parents as coaches and former players are supported to return as referees or assistant coaches. We focus on youth development, health, sportsmanship, and empowering communities by partnering with schools, parents, and community-based organizations in the areas we serve.
Our vision is to eliminate the opportunity gap that prohibits underserved communities from participating in organized sports. Our survey data shows that for around 70% of participants, this was the first time they engaged in an organized sport. Because we do not focus on winning, all children, regardless of experience or ability, are welcomed and supported in our program. We typically see a huge increase in players self-confidence, teamwork, and friendships as the season progresses.
Balón USA keeps equity at the heart of all we do. We are proud to bring health equity to communities where there are few resources, but we know we do even more than enhance health. We develop community leadership by engaging parents, teachers, former Balon USA participants and community members as coaches, assistant coaches, and referees. Equity, health, cultural responsiveness, and community development are core values of our organization.
"It was close and convenient. The level of challenge was a great intro to sports. It gave my daughter something to earn that she could be proud of."
"My son learned new skills and made new friends. He had fun and never felt pressure to perform a certain way. This is exactly the type of program we wanted and I am very grateful that we had the opportunity to be a part of it."
"Just an overall fantastic program. The help that was given to parents about how to support children on and off the field and encourage them at all times was very helpful."