Guest Column

Building Bridges Soccer Tournament: Raising money to support urban youth soccer

A guest column from Barry Evans on the upcoming Building Bridges With Soccer 3v3 fundraising tournament to benefit Camden Youth Soccer and Kensington Soccer Club and how you can participate in and support the tournament.

On Sunday, Aug. 11th, Camden Youth Soccer Club (CYSC) and Kensington Soccer Club (KSC) are co-hosting the Building Bridges With Soccer 3v3 fundraising tournament. The tournament will involved teams of five players—coed teams are welcome—with each team playing four group games and qualifying teams advancing to additional games. Each game will consist of seven minute halves with a one minute break in between.

The tournament will take place at the picturesque setting of Rutgers Camden playing fields. Afterwards, a party will be held at Camden Riversharks’ Campbell Stadium. Included in the day’s festivities will also be a raffle with some fantastic prizes on offer.

The cost of participating in the tournament is $20 per player, or $100 per team. The registration fee includes entry into the tournament along with a T-shirt from our tournament sponsors at Barktees. Registration is now open, and to guarantee a t-shirt in the correct size, we need the registration forms returned by July 25th.

If you can’t make it, no worries, donations will also be accepted.  You can just turn up to enjoy the festivities and take part in the after party and raffles. We are also on the look out for sponsors to reduce overhead costs, as well as anyone who would like to donate a prize for the raffle. If you would like to do so please contact me at evans.jefferson@gmail.com as soon as possible.

Why a fundraiser?
CYSC members have at it. Photo: Earl Gardner.

CYSC members have at it. Photo: Earl Gardner.

There is always a need to bring in extra money whenever possible to keep costs to a minimum for the children who play for CYSC and KSSCC. To give you a sense of the costs involved, all CYSC charges is $25 for a full uniform (if the kids keep the uniform – a one-time cost) and $10 for registration per season. That $10 covers $8 for insurance purposes, and the rest goes towards water, food, coaching supplies, as well as medals for all children at the end of the season. Obviously, more money needs to keep coming in to cover such costs and some kids are unable to even afford the $10 registration fee, so funds are needed for scholarship to cover those children. And while both clubs have been fortunate with donations in the past, getting donations is never an easy task.

Background

Over 10 years ago, a group of soccer loving people came together to found the Camden Youth Soccer Club with the common goal of doing something for the youth of Camden while also introducing those children to the beautiful game.  Over 400 children from the Camden area turned out when the first season started in March of 2003, and everyone was happy.

Fast forward 10 years later, and there have been some changes.

New volunteers may have replaced those that founded the club, but the reasons for volunteering remain the same. Not only do the kids gain friendships with others they may otherwise never have known, but the exercise gained from practicing and playing soccer helps them to be healthier. From a starting point of not knowing how to kick a ball, the kids learn to trap, pass, shoot and dribble at a much higher level through the carefully planned sessions.

Kids also learn valuable social skills through the game. In the beginning some children may be quiet, timid and scared to get involved. But through interacting with their teammates and the encouragement of their volunteer coaches, these same children are soon joining in with everything that goes on. Learning life lessons goes hand-in-hand with becoming better at playing soccer

Challenges

While many volunteers keep coming back, new challenges continue to arise.

For example, CYSC originally began by using the fields at Camden High School. But because the school’s football team used the fields, CYSC soon had to find a new home. When a new home was found at Pyne Point Park, attendance fell sharply and outreach efforts had to be undertaken. Then, in 2012, volunteers showed up at the park only to discover that the club’s goals had been stolen and presumably sold for scrap. The goals were eventually replaced through donations and the founding of an annual darts tournament, the third of which will take place in February/March of 2014.

Fundraising has to be an ongoing effort—familiar challenges remain (a second set of goals was stolen soon after the first theft) and new challenges arise. But such challenges can also lead to new partnerships.

Partners

CYSC has partnered with Kensington Soccer Club for the Building Bridges tournament. Jim Hardy, a teacher at Kensington High School, founded KSC three-and-a-half years ago.

Growing tired of seeing his students reach adolescence without having had many of the opportunities so many of us take for granted, Jim combined his passion for soccer with his background in community organizing and education to launch the Kensington Soccer Club in the winter of 2010.

KSC members at play. Photo: Nicolae Stoian.

KSC members at play. Photo: Nicolae Stoian.

Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers from Kensington and elsewhere, and the extreme generosity of a small group of donors, KSC has reached over one thousand youth since its founding in the highest-poverty section of Philadelphia.

KSC now runs intramural leagues in the spring and fall for boys and girls ages 3 to 19, partners with the Starfinder Foundation run a summer camp, and just added travel teams for winter indoor soccer and a rec team for young adults to stay involved with the club after graduating high school. These soccer programs themselves have a huge impact on the lives of the youth and families involved but KSC goes further by incorporating complementary programs for broader youth and community development.

These programs include academic enrichment that leverages players’ passion for soccer by offering soccer prizes for reading books with soccer themes in a program called Soccer Making Academics Real Together (SMART). Also, when players practice twice-weekly, their soccer activities incorporate a heavy focus on health and nutrition education utilizing the US Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success curriculum. In order to help teens prepare for college and career and grow up to be responsible, community-minded adults, KSC started a Teen Leaders Initiative in which teens are trained and given a stipend to work as assistant coaches for younger players. Some older teens have stepped up to become KSC board members and head coaches and other former players come back and make time to volunteer even while balancing college and work.

KSC does all of this while insuring that any child who wishes to participate can do so with the assistance of both partial and full scholarships so that no child will be turned away because they don’t have the money to cover the costs of joining the club.

Join in

CYSC and KSC can only sustain the work they do through the generosity of volunteers and the success of fundraising events the upcoming Building Bridges With Soccer tournament. Good turnout for the tournament will mean another year of robust soccer programming for low-income youth. Fantastic tournament participation will even help KSC expand their programs and work towards their goal of opening a soccer community center in Kensington.

The Building Bridges With Soccer fundraising 3v3 tournament will take place at Rutgers-Camden Playing Field on Aug. 11, 12 pm – 5 pm. For tournament and registration information, click here or email Barry Evans at evans.jefferson@gmail.com.

To learn more about CYSC, check out our photo essay and Q&A with CYSC coach Barry Evans . To learn more about KSC, check out our photo essay and Q&A with founder Jim Hardy.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the support PSP!

  2. This great motivation. I would like to replicate your successful here in kenya. Please find some time and share with me some strategy

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