Alexandria Soccer Association (ASA) has teamed up with ACPS to offer free after-school soccer to students at William Ramsay Elementary School and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology.
ASA will offer their fall and spring programs to 340 students from the two schools, which serve large numbers of families who would otherwise be unable to access this kind of athletic activity.
Students in grades one through five at both schools will get free uniforms and programming. Coaches will offer soccer on Tuesdays and Fridays at Cora Kelly and Wednesdays at William Ramsay. All students will get transportation home after practice, provided by ACPS as part of the partnership agreement.
“We are so thankful for this opportunity for the hardworking students and families in our community. We know there is a real passion among many of our students for soccer. The partnership with ASA has eliminated many of the barriers to participation, including time, cost and transportation,” said Michael Routhouska, Principal at William Ramsay Elementary School.
The soccer program ran a campaign at William Ramsay in the West End last school year to increase the number of participants. As a result, participation at William Ramsay increased from 11 to over 100 students during the school year.
A recent study by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and the Aspen Institute found that children from households that make $25,000 or less participate in youth sports half as much (just 19 percent) as children from households that earn $100,000 or more. Additionally, participation in youth sports is down overall and those that are involved are experiencing more and more “professionalized” experiences with expensive and demanding training schedules. Less than half of all ACPS families indicate that their child is enrolled in an after-school program. Cost is the number one reason families give for their child not attending, according to the Alexandria Out-of-School Report by the City and ACPS.
“We are developing a model that provides an alternative to the growing inaccessibility of youth soccer. We started with a simple mission—to offer the highest quality soccer programming experience at every level to any child that wanted to play. These school programs remove cost and transportation barriers and introduce children to soccer and an active, healthier lifestyle,” said Tommy Park, ASA Executive Director.
Since the ASA scholarship fund was founded in 2011, ASA has provided over $500,000 in support to more than 5,000 children. Participation has increased from 1,800 to 5,000 children annually. ASA has also brought in bilingual staff members to help provide literature and coaching to Alexandria’s diverse community.
The program, which is in addition to the usual ASA program, will begin officially on October 9.