Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bringing Hope, Fun, and Soccer to the Western Addition and Tenderloin Kids

By Roberto Gil, Civic Center Soccer League Program Director

It is increasingly difficult for inner-city kids who live or study within Downtown San Francisco to play outdoor activities since there are not that many fields near them. Kids grow up playing on blacktop and very few public schools have gyms or offer organized sports at the elementary level.  For those of us who grew up playing sports outdoors (whether it was on nice grass or plain dirt), we know that they are missing that natural and adventurous feeling of falling on the grass or getting dirt in their shoes. Even more, many of these kids miss the benefits of playing organized and well structured team sports and the positive outcomes of playing on a team: developing a sense of belonging, learning how to work with others, learning new skills, and learning how to deal with winning and losing.

When trying to offer their students the possibility of playing on a team, after school coordinators face different types of obstacles, the most common being funding.  This has a domino effect on their program, for they cannot afford to hire extra staff members, uniforms, equipment, or transportation to the nearest fields.

At the center of this problem lies the kid who deserves to play, to move, to laugh, to wear their very own jersey and feel part of a team, and who needs to learn important life values that team sports, when conscious and well administered, can provide: teamwork, leadership, commitment, fair-play, and an active lifestyle.

Nevertheless, many after school coordinators from the Tenderloin, Western Addition, and Chinatown Districts are aware of the vital role that sports plays in kids' lives.  America SCORES Bay Area (ASBA) is taking a lead in this matter and, with the collaboration of S.F. Rec & Parks and Coaching Corps, ASBA's Civic Center Soccer League (CCSL) is expanding this year to bring together elementary school boys and girls teams from neighborhoods where outdoor field space is sparse.

As a Program Director for the CCSL, I feel blessed to be part of this important chapter for ASBA as we bridge communities and find the necessary solidarity amongst our staff, volunteers, after-school coordinators, community partners, and coaches to work through many obstacles so kids can have a chance to play on a soccer team. At the same time we are building a family-friendly, healthy environment at the heart of the city.  Childhood education, healthy habits, civic engagement, and community-building are defining characteristics of San Francisco.  What better place to further this ethos?

Have a couple hours on a Friday afternoon? 

Get out and play with us!  We are always on the lookout for soccer coaches and referees to jump in and oversee weekly games from 3:30-5:15pm.

To volunteer, contact Shannon at

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