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Feb, 2019

SAY Starters Receive Innovate to Grow Grant

SAY Soccer is excited to announce the acceptance of an Innovate to Grow Fund grant from U.S. Soccer. The grant funds will go towards increasing participation by introducing new programming in rural, underserved, and majority-minority communities.

U.S. Soccer's Board of Directors approved nearly 1.2 million dollars to help build soccer at the grassroots level. As one of 17 programs selected by U.S. Soccer, SAY’s proposal was required to meet certain criteria, including:

-The program must be new and different from current efforts.

-The program must demonstrate capability to grow participation.

-The program must demonstrate potential to scale in other markets.

-The program must align with U.S. Soccer player development initiatives.

SAY’s proposal featured a new and innovative plan to grow the number of pre-school aged players through a program dubbed SAY Starters. The approved grant is specifically aimed at growing numbers within rural and underserved communities.

Why Rural Soccer Needs Our Focus

According to Doug Wood, Executive Director of SAY, “The typical discussion in the soccer community points to inner-city youth soccer players in the United States as being underserved. While this is true, rural soccer communities are often overlooked as an area for potential growth.”

In Fall of 2019, SAY Starters will launch in the Five Points Area of Southeastern Ohio. It is our hope that over three years, this program will grow player participation while improving youth soccer coaches’ acclimation to U.S. Soccer philosophies.

SAY Starters Program

The SAY Starters program is designed to introduce the 3U-4U player to the game of soccer in a fun and safe environment. This program has been designed for preschool-aged kids so that they can work on a variety of different skill-sets that will ultimately make them well-rounded, confident and socialized young people. The most vital part of the SAY Starters program is that the kids, parents and coaches have a fun soccer experience that will encourage them to continue playing and participating in future years.

“I am very excited that US Soccer has backed SAY in planting new programs in rural areas,” says National Education Manager Erika True. “Providing soccer opportunities to young children in rural areas will hopefully help us grow the game through increased participation in players, coaches and fans of the game.”


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Soccer Association for Youth USA

11490 Springfield Pike 
Cincinnati, Ohio 45246

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