D.C. United and its non-profit arm, United for D.C., today announced the kick-off of the spring session of United Soccer Club. Sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Volkswagen and the Department of Health, the program is solely managed by foundation staff and remains the most comprehensive community development initiative delivered by any of the Mid-Atlantic regions’ professional sports teams. The signature initiative was also a key factor in United for D.C. earning the coveted President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award last year.
United Soccer Club serves 900 children through 14 sites this year, teaching soccer and the importance of a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and proper nutrition, as well as life skills that are beneficial on and off the field. All teams meet three times a week after school for 90 minute sessions, and players are taught by D.C. United staff, current and former United players and talented local coaches. Children also participate in a mini-league throughout the season, furthering the participants’ sense of team, commitment and healthy competition.
The spring season will kick off this week at six locations around the area. These sites include Harrison Middle School, Harrison Recreation Center, Friendship Technology and Preparatory Academy, KIPP- LEAP Academy, Parkview Recreation Center and Long Branch Community Center. Set to kick off next week are the Fishing School at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, Payne Elementary School, Barry Farm Recreation Center, Ketcham Elementary School, Boys & Girls Club at Orr Elementary, and Turkey Thicket Recreation Center. The final United Soccer Club sites, FBR Branch at THEARC and Richard England Clubhouse #14, will begin the week of March 25.
United Soccer Club was born from a request in Ward 8 for opportunities for children to play organized soccer. In the spring of 2006, United for D.C. launched its own after school soccer program, in partnership with D.C. Parks and Recreation at Barry Farm Recreation Center. The program has incorporated a formal healthy lifestyles curriculum in an effort to combat the region’s high rate of obesity among children.
United for D.C. includes two other core programs: Kicks for Kids, which provides thousands of underprivileged children the opportunity to watch D.C. United play this season, as well as United Reads, an initiative promoting the love of reading, currently provided in six DC elementary schools. This program distributes between 8,000-10,000 books during First Team player visits throughout the year.