Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Story of Giving from Gary Smith

My story is also about soccer. Southern California is the hotbed of youth soccer in our country, and club soccer is where young boys and girls pursue their dreams while learning life lessons about the value of commitment, hard work, and team work.

Unfortunately, the mantra of club soccer is “for kids who can play and parents who can pay,” since club fees are typically $1,000 - $3,000 per player per year. Our Foothill Storm team is now in its third year and is committed to offering high-energy boys from all socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to play high-level soccer.

Our coach loves this team so much that he commutes from Riverside to train them. This December, they reached the semifinals of League Cup, which places them among the top four teams among nearly 150 Southern California teams in their under-12 age bracket. It was especially satisfying to play better soccer than teams (like Santa Barbara) with expensive uniforms and gear. We saw a team from Yorba Linda (the highest-income city in Orange County) chauffeured to this month-long tournament in San Bernardino in a limousine! Our boys have three-year-old uniforms that are too small and falling apart and no limousine, but they can play soccer.

I have managed this team since its inception and the only way we can make this magic work is through fundraising—finding people who can afford to donate a few dollars to our nonprofit organization. A dollar here, a dollar there, and by the end of the year we’ve paid our modest bills (barely).

Now our boys are turning 12 and we are finally going to have to replace those uniforms they have been wearing since they were 9 years old. But first we have to find the money to pay for them.

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