After the ball started rolling for Soccer in the Streets, it picked up momentum quickly.  By 1993, programming was already being conducted across the country thanks to prominent sponsors like Chick-Fil-A, Reebok, and the Swiss Army Foundation.  

Based in Atlanta, Soccer in the Streets quickly partnered with local agencies like the Atlanta Housing Authority and the Metro Atlanta Boys & Girls Clubs to deliver programming to kids in need.  

The first program locally was conducted at the J.H. Boys & Girls Club, serving kids from the Harris Homes housing community.  Soon thereafter, programming kicked off at Grady Homes, Kimberly Courts, and Perry Homes.  A number of other communities started programming in the spring of 1994.

Seth Coleman wrote this in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on February 10, 1994: 

"The kids around here needed something positive to get into, and we really wanted [Soccer in the Streets] here," said Thelma Beck, president of the Gilbert Gardens Residents Association and coordinator of the program in Gilbert Gardens.

She said the kids get more out of Soccer in the Streets than merely learning how to kick a ball around.

"They learn how to listen and follow directions, and the coaches give them good, adult role models," Beck said. "I think it really helps improve their lives."

Through its work with the Atlanta Housing Authority, Soccer in the Streets was part of former President Jimmy Carter’s The Atlanta Project which launched in 1991.  Carter envisioned a collaborative effort in each targeted community.  Soccer in the Streets worked to expose the youth in these neighborhoods to a new sport, physical activity, and skills like teamwork that come from sport.

All of this leads up to when the world of soccer came to the United States in 1994 for the World Cup…

Graham Tutt played goalkeeper for Charlton Athletic in England prior to coming to Atlanta to play for the NASL’s Atlanta Chiefs.  When the Chiefs disbanded in 1981, Tutt stayed in Atlanta and become one of the leading ambassadors of the sport in our city.  His summer camps and indoor soccer facility were instrumental in introducing soccer to thousands across Atlanta in the 1980’s.  

When Ron Terwilliger and Bob Moreland came together to launch the Atlanta Attack professional indoor soccer team, Graham was one of the first front office hires.  He was also on the original Board of Directors of Soccer in the Streets.  

When asked about those early days, Graham said:

It’s great to see how Soccer In The Streets has developed from a chance meeting at my apartment mailbox over 25 years ago. While I was picking up my mail from our apartment mailbox area I got to chatting with an enthusiastic event promotions person named Carolyn Mackenzie. Carolyn carried a positive, friendly “do good” personality. She wanted to grow her event company by doing something that would be worthwhile for thousands of inner city kids. At the time I was the Executive President of an Atlanta Pro Indoor franchise called the Atlanta Attack. At that time, I had been thinking about developing an inner city soccer program to get more kids playing soccer. In no time, I realized Carolyn would be the ideal person to run such a program.

Writing on the back of a junk mail envelope I wrote out a general marketing plan that should involve the local politicians and corporations … I believed their support would be key in getting the program off the ground.

A few weeks later Carolyn organized a Soccer In The Streets “Kick Off Party” down at the Capitol … Amazingly Carolyn had the Mayor of Atlanta and several big corporate hitters… The endorsement from the Mayor and corporate execs, plus exposure through our franchise on game days by playing at The Omni was the best “Shop Window” for the program. The next thing I know Carolyn was receiving a plaque from the Jackie Onassis Kennedy Foundation in recognition for developing a program that went nationwide and was embracing thousands of inner city kids.

Thanks Graham for helping to get the ball rolling for Soccer in the Streets!  

Here’s one of the first articles from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Soccer in the Streets from December, 1989.

Over the next 25 days, we’ll be looking back at the last 25 years of Soccer in the Streets.  If you have anything to share with us, please do so on our Facebook and Twitter pages using #25Years.  You can also email us at info@soccerstreets.org.  

At this time 25 years ago, Soccer in the Streets was being formed.  In the original paperwork, it states:

"Soccer in the Streets was organized to introduce and teach the cultural sport of soccer to youth in the inner-city. The youth will join teams and play games. Soccer in the Streets will enlighten youth and their parents of cultural sports; it will replace the non-productive hours of many youth with hours of challenge, rewards, and character building techniques."

The organization was born out of conversations between our founder Carolyn McKenzie and Bob Moreland of the Atlanta Attack professional indoor soccer team in October of 1989.  The Attack were readying for their first season.  

Moreland told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December, 1989: 

"I noticed that there were about 50,000 people playing soccer, but there wasn’t much participation in the inner city. I thought we should get involved in bringing soccer to the inner city kids. … It’s great for sportsmanship and learning to work together."

Early board members included members of the Attack organization, Fulton County government, and local business leaders.  

In the conclusion of an early document, the initial focus of Soccer in the Streets is defined as:

"Soccer in the Streets can help change the lives of many youth and offer them a constructive way to utilize their recreational hours. This program will also get parents more involved in their children’s lives."

It’s amazing to look back and see that even after sharpening the mission of the organization and increasing the depth of programming, we are still focusing on the same ideals from the beginning.  

It is fitting to post this today, as October 17 is listed as the date Soccer in the Streets was formed in the initial IRS paperwork.  This probably dates to when the first conversations between Carolyn McKenzie and Bob Moreland took place.  

On November 11th, we will celebrate our 25th Anniversary of using soccer to positively impact the lives of youth.  

In a December 28th, 1989 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, our founder Carolyn McKenzie said, “We would like to use this as a means to build character. We will use the sport to as a means to teach responsibility, self-image building, and positive thinking.”  It’s amazing that those elements are still at the heart of what we do on a daily basis.  

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking back at some of the milestones along the way to our 25th Anniversary.  Please join us through our social media channels using the hashtag #25Years.  

We’re proud to celebrate 25 years of using soccer for social good, and we’re excited to look ahead at the next 25 years!  

8 players from the Estudiantes Juniors team in College Park, GA and their coach traveled to the Okefenokee Swamp for a camping field trip last weekend.  

The darkness hit and we where all excited and nervous. The trees hit the road like a scary movie and the boys soon began to comment how dark it was. One boy shouted out “I can see stars!” each faced pushed against the window looking up at the night sky. I smiled as I realized they where about experience amazement.”

Thanks to the Georgia State Parks and the Park Rangers for helping to provide this experience to these kids!

Beginning August 1st, Soccer in the Streets began a partnership with the Intown Academy to provide an intramural league for first through eighth graders at Central Park in the Old Fourth Ward/Boulevard area.

InTown Academy opened in 2010 as a K-8 Charter School, serving 365 students.  The mission of the school is to provide a world class education and “serve as an anchor for a growing and changing community”. 

Soccer in the Streets programming will assist in the school’s goal to provide an outlet for students to be active, and develop desired character traits.  These activities will prepare their students to participate in the Atlanta Public Schools’ soccer league next spring.

Many of the students are new to soccer, so the program will begin with skill building activities, followed by assigning students to teams and playing games.  From there, coaches will implement regular after-school practices and intramural games throughout the fall.

We are working to add a winter component using a gymnasium at Central Park, and Spring will bring continued intramural programming for younger participants.  Soccer in the Streets will assist with the implementation of middle school teams which will participate in the APS middle school league from February thru April. 

Funding for this program was generously provided by PNC Bank.  PNC has 10 branches throughout the Atlanta region, providing consumers and small businesses with deposit, lending, cash management and investment services.  

It seems like just yesterday…but it was 25 years ago, a few dedicated volunteers decided to introduce soccer to a wider audience in the US.

Founder Carolyn McKenzie’s goal was to bring soccer to the inner city, where it was virtually unknown, and to provide an outlet for young people in inner city communities with limited access to organized sports a new option.

In 1998, current CEO Jill Robbins was recruited from a Soccer in the Streets affiliate in Youngstown,Ohio to join the national headquarters in Atlanta.

Since then, soccer programming has grown from short term introductory sessions to year round holistic programming.

Over the past 25 years, Soccer in the Streets has pioneered the use of soccer for social change, and achieved many things:

1989:   Soccer in the Streets is founded

1994:   Held soccer clinics across US as part of the ‘94 FIFA World Cup

1998:   Held soccer clinics across US as part of the ‘98 FIFA World Cup

1999:   Held national soccer clinics as part of the ‘99 FIFA Women’s World Cup

2001:   “Positive-Choice Soccer” developed in conjunction with Atlanta Public Schools and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta

2004:   Founding member of streetfootballworld

2006:   Represented the US at the streetfootballworld Festival during the ‘06 FIFA World Cup in Berlin, Germany

2007:   Founding member of Urban Soccer Collaborative

2007:  Awarded grant through FIFA Football for Hope program

2009:   “School of Life” launched, combining employment training with soccer for teenagers

2009:   First Black Tie Soccer Game – primary fundraising event

2010:   Represented the US at the Football for Hope Festival during the ‘10 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa

2011:   First ATL Champions League

2011:  Awarded 1st Coca-Cola Foundation Grant to support School of Life program

2014:   Received Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation grant to establish first soccer league on the West side of Atlanta in Castleberry Hill neighborhood

 

4 teams enter, 2 teams go home… South American Smackdown today at the World Cup

Brazil v. Chile, 12pm

Key Players:
Brazil:  Neymar- He has carried Brazil so far, and will need to continue to do so unless some of his teammates step up their play.  He will cut inside from the left side of the attack and must be accounted for by a tough Chilean defense.
Chile:  Arturo Vidal- He came into the tournament recovering from surgery and was rested against the Netherlands. With Brazil’s midfield looking rather disjointed, Vidal can be key in sparking a Chilean upset.

Colombia v. Uruguay, 4pm

Key Players:
Colombia:  James Rodrguez- According to many, he’s been the best player in the tournament thus far.  He plays behind Jackson Martinez as an attacking midfielder, but is free to pop up wherever he likes. He’s been scoring goals and setting them up for the high powered Colombian attack. 
Uruguay:  Diego Forlan- After losing Luis Suarez to his moment of madness, the inspirational leader Forlan will be pressed back into service to lift his team.  He was the best player in South Africa four years ago, but it’s unclear if he has enough left in the tank to defeat one of Colombia’s best ever teams.

Where to watch with Soccer in the Streets:

Diesel Filling Station, 870 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, 30306
We’ll be watching today’s games at Diesel Filling Station in Virginia-Highland.  You can support our programs at APS schools by drinking Bud Light draft, $1 from every pint and $4 from every pitcher will donated to Soccer in the Streets.