By Charles Boehm
Coaches, fans and pundits in the United States routinely lament soccer’s limited presence in the nation’s urban areas. With the game’s traditional hotbeds in this country usually found in the suburbs, it’s widely believed that soccer is failing to connect with social and ethnic groups who could contribute talent, passion and other important human resources to its growth and improvement.
For some time now, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has been taking action to change this state of affairs by investing resources and building networks in cities across the country, and this week the foundation has welcomed many of those in this field to Washington, D.C. for the Urban Soccer Symposium.
This four-day event at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, which opened on Monday and runs through Thursday, brings together “urban soccer programmers,” in the parlance of the foundation, to share information, build connections and present a range of speakers and educational sessions. This year’s theme is “Envision. Embark. Excel.”
Prominent women’s players Angela Hucles and Monica Gonzalez are among the guest speakers at the event, which also featured a performance by the Urban Hip-Hop Choir last night and a screening of “The Anderson Monarchs,” a documentary film about an inner-city girls’ team in Philadelphia, tonight.
Participants will also take part in informative talks on topics like fundraising, branding, mentoring, budget management, youth empowerment and many more. On Thursday, attendees will spend the day lobbying and meeting members of Congress on Capitol Hill.