With World Cup fever drawing closer, and in light of its mandate to bring sports opportunities into underprivileged communities, the LAFC Foundation today announced two collaborations with the City of Huntington Park and its Department of Parks & Recreation, as well as The Roy W. Roberts, II Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club to develop new soccer fields and leagues in these disadvantaged South Los Angeles neighborhoods.
With groundbreaking expected to take place this year, LAFC intends to develop two full-size soccer fields and one smaller one in city-owned Salt Lake Park in Huntington Park. A site is close to being finalized in the Watts/Willowbrook area, where a minimum of two fields is planned. Concurrently, LAFC is setting up new leagues with both partners, providing coach and referee training, uniforms and equipment.
The program will serve as a model for other inner-city collaboration across the U.S. LAFC is seeking individual, corporate and foundation support to raise nearly $2 million per year over a five-year period. A nonprofit organization, LAFC Foundation has contributed significant funding for programming benefiting youth worldwide.
The Los Angeles projects will serve communities with similar economic needs and high drop-out rates among high school students. In Huntington Park, where close to 96% of the population is Latino, soccer is already a well-loved sport. In Watts, Willowbrook and Compton, LAFC aims to popularize soccer to the heavily African-American community.
Both of our partners in Huntington Park and Watts/Willowbrook have excellent programs to serve youth, from literacy to health, but not enough kids are using them, says LAFC founder/president Don Sheppard. Soccer is a lever to bring kids into these and other programs. It gives kids hope and opportunity that they might not have otherwise. LAFC teaches soccer skills but we also provide free mentoring, tutoring and life skills training, with the goal of keeping kids in high school and getting more into college.
The Roy W. Roberts, II Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club is proud to partner with the LAFC Foundation in providing a trendsetting soccer development program model for youth in the economically disadvantaged community of South Los Angeles, said Executive Director Les Jones. Our shared vision is to use organized soccer as a path of hope and opportunity for those young people who need us most. This collaborative soccer and youth development program will inspire and enable underserved boys and girls to reach their full potential as players and responsible citizens.
We are excited to partner with the LAFC Foundation and embark on this important effort to bring first-class soccer facilities and youth programs to Huntington Park, offered Huntington Park Mayor Mario Gomez. Our program will improve the lives of local youth through soccer, but it will do so by giving equal importance to off-field activities such as mentoring, community service, academics and more. This program will become a model for others who truly want to play a role not only in the development of well-rounded athletes, but well-rounded people.
The LAFC Foundation is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization that evolved from LAFC Chelsea, which has become one of America�s largest and most prominent club soccer organizations. For more information, please visit www.lafcfoundation.org.