20 October 2017

streetfootballworld USA co-organised an event in California this week examining how professional soccer clubs can become a force for social good. 

 

The event, held at the headquarters of Clif Bar in Emeryville, brought together a panel of experts including Andy Dolich, a sports executive who has worked with all the major Bay Area sports brands including the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Athletics; John O’Brien, a former pro soccer player with Ajax Amsterdam and the U.S. national team; David Jackson, the Managing Director of Impact Hub, a co-working space for social entrepreneurs in Oakland and Aaron Dolores, the founder of Black Arrow F.C., an Oakland-based brand that focuses on the intersection of soccer and black culture.

 

The panel examined the unique potential of soccer to build positive, healthy communities in the United States, and John O’Brien talked about his support of streetfootballworld network member Soccer Without Borders, which uses soccer to engage refugee and newcomer youth and helps them to learn English and succeed in school.

 

The audience was also introduced to the story of Kick4Life, a streetfootballworld network member in Lesotho, Africa which is pioneering a new model of professional soccer club. In 2014, Kick4Life decided to pivot from a traditional charity model to become ’the world’s first professional football club dedicated to social change’. Since then they have had great success both on and off the field, with several of their players winning academic and soccer scholarships to the United States. One of them, Senate Letsie, became the first woman from Lesotho ever to come to the USA on an academic and soccer scholarship this year when she was awarded a place at Lewis & Clark Community College in Illinois. 

 

Senate flew in for the event to talk about her experience with Kick4Life and the impact that professional soccer can have when it is dedicated to social good. “In Lesotho, a lot of girls at the other teams would be jealous of me,” she said. “They saw how much Kick4Life F.C. cared about us and how much they gave us off the field. They prepared us as role models, and that’s how I see myself now.”

 

The event was co-organised by Oakland Pro Soccer , a group of Bay area natives passionate about bringing professional soccer to Oakland who are interested in learning from the field of ‘football for good’ as they examine the potential for this model to be created in the United States.