Originally published by Alicia Luciani July 2, 2019.
Charity Pickup soccer games are not exactly new, but they are gaining significant traction as the groups that run them become more organized and more sustainable. The model is well-meaning and intriguing: Adults pay a bit of money to play in a soccer game, and that money supports great programs, which frequently aim to transform the lives of underserved youth.
Sounds simple, but who are the organizations behind this movement? Who are the people that are canvassing local facilities to get field permits, advertising the games, collecting payment, bringing the equipment, running the games, and ultimately connecting adults to these pickup games?
Meet these amazing groups in two of North America’s biggest cities, that are inspiring real social change.
Caleb Olson, National Director for PS2G (Play Soccer to Give) lives with his heart wide open. He takes you into his life, his cycling road trips, his injuries, his stresses, and his dreams of his upcoming adventures. We’ve flown to NYC to meet Caleb a few times and without even seeing the daily effort he puts in to being a game leader at several pickup games around the city, we know one thing for sure: he really pours his heart into this organization, as a way to fulfill his personal mission of using soccer as a tool for good and social change.
Their name really says it all. If you play with them, you’re playing soccer to give. PS2G “exists to encourage generosity and restore dignity through soccer.” Their game leaders host pickup games 7 days a week in NYC, sometimes several times per day, and support a huge number of soccer non-profits with funding, awareness, and volunteers (see 2018 figures below). PS2G is expanding their soccer offerings to include leagues in July, 2019, and will continue to grow in cities across America🌎🙏.
There’s more, though. Once a year, game leaders and volunteers from PS2G travel to the host city of the Homeless World Cup, which is in Cardiff Wales this year from July 27-August 3 2019. Their contribution to the Homeless World Cup includes helping fund Street Soccer USA players to get to the tournament, and organizing “global games” to allow international participants to play together in a friendly pickup game, before participating more competitively in the tournament. In 2014, they provided a 4-year college scholarship to a now college graduate, and they donated over $37,000 in 2018 alone! Pretty amazing.
⚽️New Yorkers, keep your eyes locked on upcoming pickup games and league registrations from PS2G by joining their group here 👊!!
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I was intrigued when I read that Dayna, co-founder of Friends League Toronto, is a Reiki Master. Something compelled me to her — this notion that she’s at the intersection of mindfulness, spiritual wellness and sports made me want to dig deeper and get to know her.
“Our generation is different than the generation before us. We really think about wellness as a whole, and (we think about) contributing back to society in such a different way,” she tells me over our first phone call. “We need to contribute to the whole, it’s not all about us as individuals.”
So after organizing a surprise pickup soccer match for her boyfriend Helton’s birthday, Dayna and Helton figured out a way to help others contribute to the whole: through fundraising pickup soccer matches.
FLT is working out of our very own backyard in Toronto, and they want to help uplift you by allowing you to engage in acts of service, by playing in their soccer matches! As with PS2G, your sign up equals your donation. All proceeds go toward a charity picked by the FLT team to help bring funding and awareness to their cause. “Success, for us, isn’t just about us,” she tells me.
On July 7th, FLT supported The Kickback, a Toronto based organization which aims to activate and empower inner city youth to reach their full potential, using donations of lightly worn sneakers as a conversation starter and change maker.
Co-founder Dayna speaks healing words through her writing as she says, “By dedicating the time to yourself, to engage in physical activity, you practice self love and balance. By donating to the cause, you’re impacting change in someone else’s life.” 🤗
⚽️Torontonians, join Friends League Toronto’s next charity pickup game August 11th here.
You, too, can fundraise or bring awareness to local charities by hosting and playing pickup sports! If you want to run pickup games for social change, let us know, and we will help support your group and your events.
Get out and play for social good!!
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