Atlanta’s Sanjay Patel was among the few overseas Britons who woke up to the new year with a new honor from his country of origin.
Mr. Patel, director of strategic projects with Soccer in the Streets, this week was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his “services to Social Mobility, the promotion of Prosperity and to Education in Atlanta through Football.”
Even before he joined the organization full-time, Mr. Patel drove the partnerships that would lead to StationSoccer, an interconnected network of soccer fields within metro-area transit nodes.
Mr. Patel came up with the idea during his commute on MARTA, when he envisioned how unused parking lots and other areas within the grounds could become a “League of Stations” where kids without easy access to transportation could participate safely in the group’s soccer-based life-skills training.
StationSoccer also includes adult leagues where fees fund young people’s participation in leagues or Soccer in the Streets programs.
Five Points downtown, MARTA’s main transfer interchange, was the first transit station country to install a soccer pitch on its footprint in 2016. Now the widely awarded program has expanded to four stations including Lindbergh, West End and East Point.
On Facebook, Mr. Patel thanked those who nominated him as well as the British Consulate-General in Atlanta, which in turn announced his appointment on Twitter:
We are excited to congratulate Mr. Sanjay Patel on his award as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to Social Mobility, the promotion of Prosperity and to Education in Atlanta through @soccerstreets https://t.co/IrEM43A94c pic.twitter.com/OAbKiJGCWB
— British Consulate-General Atlanta (@UKinAtlanta) January 5, 2021
Learn more about Station Soccer here.