Soccer in the Streets’ Nations Cup fundraiser is returning for its third year, pitting football fanatics from various countries against each other for the benefit of local kids.
The April 29 one-day tournament is will have some added nationalistic punch this year, coming as it does just before the June kickoff of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Executive Director Phil Hill, a Brit, used the U.S.’s poor showing in qualifying as an example of why backing the sport at all levels is so important. Too many kids stop playing for various reasons before they reach high school and college.
“The United States failing to qualify for the World Cup this year further demonstrates the need to invest in inner cities in order to provide greater access, cultivating and fomenting talent development from every corner of this country,” Mr. Hill said in a news release.
But for Soccer in the Streets, the competition isn’t limited to the pitch. Players raise a minimum of $125, but many go well beyond the requirement: An online platform tallies donations pledged to individuals and teams alike, and those who raise the most money in advance get a head start in the points rankings for the seven-on-seven tournament.
Tilo Fruth, who won last year’s individual fundraising crown with more than $2,300, is already more than halfway to that goal.
Soccer in the Streets runs programs that teach life skills through soccer and expand access to the sport in underprivileged areas. Just in the last year, the organization has worked with 9,500 kids across 30-plus metro-area sites.
The organization’s “Station Soccer” program, a first-of-its-kind football pitch within a transit station, has won widespread acclaim locally and globally. The organization hopes to expand that program to new MARTA stations soon.
Last year, Nations Cup raised $40,754 with the participation of eight “national” teams — whose players don’t have to actually hail from the place they’re representing. Last year’s Icelandic team, for instance, was made up of college students and a few refugees, only one or two of whom had traveled to the island nation.
So far this year, teams from the United States, Great Britain, India, The Netherlands, Mexico and Germany have signed up. Two other slots are left, and teams are often looking for players.
Last year, India bested England 4-3 in the final match to win the cup.
Learn more about how the event plays into the Soccer in the Streets strategy in this Global Atlanta story.