Friday 16 August 2019, 10:15

Philadelphia’s Starfinder, using soccer to develop the whole person

  • Starfinder Foundation assists underserved youth in Greater Philadelphia

  • With FIFA Foundation aid it provides opportunities for youth development

  • 100 per cent high school graduation rate, 92 per cent college enrolment rate

Soccer is far more than just a sport; it has the incredible ability to inspire and change the trajectory of peoples' lives in extremely positive ways. The people behind the Starfinder Foundation knew this and believed in it deeply when they formed the organisation in 2002.

Based in Philadelphia, USA, Starfinder is all about giving underserved youth in the city opportunities to grow in their emotional and physical health and well-being and to ultimately go on to be leaders in the world for the rest of their lives. They accomplish this goal in multiple ways.

Starfinder primarily runs after-school and summer programs, providing highly-skilled coaching for kids from the ages of six to 18, and they intentionally look to recruit youth and girls who are underserved by the pay-to-play system.

Starfinder's values

  • All kids deserve to learn, grow, and thrive

  • A strong community is our greatest asset

  • Young people have a great deal to contribute

  • Soccer is a powerful vehicle for youth development

  • Play makes life better

A big aim of the foundation is to instil principles like hard work, discipline and teamwork into the kids through soccer to ultimately transform all aspects of their lives.

They also provide educational resources like SAT prep classes (entrance exam for college admissions in the USA), college campus visits and college application guidance, along with their soccer programs.

Students who come through Starfinder have a 100 per cent high school graduation rate and a 92 per cent college enrolment rate, which, in the context of Philadelphia's public high school graduation rate of only 64 per cent, is very high.

What's perhaps even more impressive is the clear effect their training and investment has in kids' lives, with 84 per cent of returning participants holding leadership positions in their schools and communities.

Some students who have come through Starfinder have gone on to play soccer at the university level, which the foundation celebrates. However, what's clear to see is that the organisation is creating leaders who will go on to greatly impact the world in a positive way, whatever they choose to do.

Starfinder is one of a number of organisations supported by the FIFA Foundation's Community Programme.