Hey Sidekik Nation!
We have been working on a LOT of really cool things for you this year!!! Including a closer look behind the scenes, the new smart Sidekik (shhh), and solving Pay-To-Play!
In order of importance, let's work that list backwards:
After watching the US Men's Soccer Team FAIL to qualify for the World Cup, we took a look into the contributing factors... How could this happen... How can we help make sure it doesn't happen again?
Perhaps one of the darkest days in US soccer, that no one really saw coming, was the reality check we all needed.
It is of no surprise that fingers were being pointed all across the country at the leadership of US Youth Soccer and how our system is structured. -- You have to pay (a lot) if you want to play at the higher levels here. NPR said it best in a special they did on immigrant families:
"Around the world, soccer is played by the rich and poor alike. It's a cheap sport - no pads, no special equipment, you just need a ball. But in the United States, soccer has become the domain of the white suburban well-to-do. Just registering for a club team can run about $1,500 per year."
It is a shame that so many talented players cease to develop because the costs have become too great.
And what happens when the costs rise? So do the expectations...
Ahmet Guvener describes the cultural shiftwe have seen from the parents all the way to the top: "Since they pay for their kids to play, they like to hire coaches who train and tune their kids to win; similarly such clubs are managed by executives who share the same philosophy."
Soccer in the US is not only becoming a sport for the "well-to-do" but a sport that cripples early stage creativity under the pressure of winning.
As a player that came up through the US Youth Development Academy system, I saw the huge financial requirements and the burden it placed on my family. I was fortunate in that my parents were willing and able to make those contributions to my development, but I saw some of my closest friends leave to only play high school soccer in the Spring because the costs were too great.
After seeing the pains of our current system first-hand and watching a World Cup without the U.S., I wanted to find a solution.
One Sidekik at a time, we are determined to support Jose's goal to play college soccer. We were introduced to Jose through Charleston Kix, "a mentoring nonprofit raising money for disadvantaged kids to play soccer." The founder CJ Macauley is a passionate coach and school teacher here in Charleston South Carolina who has turned down wage increases at bigger youth clubs in order to provide top quality coaching to disadvantaged kids.
Feathers are a symbol of freedom and we are going to use Sidekik's feathers to raise awareness for Charleston Kix and kids like Jose all across America. If you believe in our mission and want to help reduce the barriers to play soccer in the US, you can buy a Sidekik today or donate directly to Charleston Kix's gofundmecampaign!
Thanks for kicking it with us! Let's make a difference together.