Soccer in the Streets Provides Accessibility to All

Transportation and affordability are the two biggest challenges when it comes to kids having access to soccer. Soccer in the Streets is determined to eliminate those obstacles.

Soccer in the Streets Provides Accessibility to All

Transportation and affordability are the two biggest challenges when it comes to kids having access to soccer. Soccer in the Streets is determined to eliminate those obstacles.

Growing up in the UK, Sanjay Patel walked home from school with a soccer ball at his feet. He and his friends would play the beautiful game in any open space they could find, kicking around until the sun went down. Once Patel moved to the US, he realized that soccer culture here was very different. This motivated Patel to get involved with Soccer in the Streets.

“[Soccer in America] was very club-based, as opposed to everyone could play it. That was unusual to me, and being passionate about it, I wanted to be involved in an organization that offers soccer programs to all youths. That’s what Soccer in the Streets does,” said Patel.

Soccer in the Streets is a non-profit organization which uses soccer as a medium to empower underprivileged youth. They put in club soccer fields and facilities at transit stations throughout the city of Atlanta, making the game accessible to all kids via public transportation.

Sanjay Patel serves as The Director of Strategic Operations at Soccer in the Streets, helping to develop and construct the station soccer initiatives that the organization is working on. His work there has landed him a spot as one of four finalists for the 2018 Innovator of the Year award.

“Not only are we giving access to kids, but we’re connecting them. So there’s social interaction, social innovation, and given that Soccer in the Streets provides free programs it gives the affordability factor as well. So we see the innovation being in that we’re connecting people.” Sanjay Patel

Transportation is a hurdle for kids throughout the country. Without the means to get to and from practice, sports are seen as intangible for so many. Patel works closely with their partners such as local transit agencies, Atlanta United, and the city of Atlanta’s planning and design department to form what will one day be called, “The League of Stations.”

One of Soccer in the Streets' fields at an Atlanta, GA train station

Soccer in the Streets is taking their initiative one station at a time, with two active station clubs currently up and running. They integrate their program into each community by becoming active in the local school systems and rec centers. Patel refers to it as ‘building a soccer culture.’

Soccer culture goes further than the field, though. In phase two of station soccer, they plan to build classroom facilities at the stations next to the fields. Here players will have the ability to interact with technology, like Hudl, and use it to develop their skills. The goal is for kids to be working on and off the field.

“You represent your club but you also compete against kids in other communities through the Hudl technology, for example measuring your shooting, dribbling, and general skills against each other.” says Patel.

Soccer in the Streets’ mission is to reach kids on the field, in small-group classroom sessions, through hands-on experiences and activities, and though participation in youth leadership councils. From here they strive to transform lives and communities through the beautiful game.

“The more people play, the more superstars we’re going to find. But it isn’t our goal to go out and find professionals, our goal is to make as many kids as we can employable adults. We use soccer as a hook to do that.” Sanjay Patel

Soccer in the Streets has reached and developed 5,000 talented players who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to play competitive soccer–that number will likely double by 2020.

Learn more about Soccer in the Streets and how you can join them.

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