United Soccer Club
Ben Keller/dcunited.com

United Soccer Club kicks off Fall campaign

D.C. United and its non-profit arm, United for D.C., today announced the kick-off of the Fall session of United Soccer Club. Sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Volkswagen, Gallup Government 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 in May.

United Soccer Club boasts 900 children 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. The program operates at 14 sites. 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 participant’s sense of team, commitment, and healthy competition.

The Fall campaign will end with a season ending tournament at the RFK Stadium Training Field. This one-of-a-kind event brings together underserved youth from across the metro area to RFK Stadium, allowing all participants the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of their family and D.C. United players. Throughout the afternoon children will have access to player autographs, D.C. United mascot Talon, carnival games, music, and much more.

The 2012 season sites include middle school programs at Harrison Parks and Recreation Center and Friendship Technology and Preparatory Academy.  Current first through fifth grade sites include Fort Davis Parks and Recreation Center and Richard England Clubhouse #14 in Ward 7, the Fishing School at J.O. Wilson Elementary School and Payne Elementary School in Ward 6, Barry Farm Recreation Center, Ketcham Elementary School, Boys & Girls Club at Orr Elementary and the FBR Branch at THEARC in Ward 8, Turkey Thicket Recreation Center in Ward 5, Harrison Recreation Center and Parkview Recreation Center in Ward 1, and Long Branch Community Center in Silver Spring, Md.

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 amongst children.

United for D.C. includes two other core programs: Kicks for Kids, through which thousands of underprivileged children will have an opportunity to watch 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 player visits throughout the year.