Yesterday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. several members of congress were recognized for their efforts to further the game of soccer in the United States. Arranged by the U.S. Soccer Foundation in honor of Youth Soccer Month, the Congressional Soccer Caucus co-chairs were recognized with a special award for their efforts and support. In addition, Bruce Arena, U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach was also recognized.
Congressman Jim Walsh (R-NY) of Syracuse shared a few thoughts about the success of the National Team programs and presented Coach Arena and Dr. Bob Contiguglia, President of U.S. Soccer with a House Resolution congratulating the U.S. Men on their qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 2006 (Germany).
Also in attendance was Tony DiCicco, former U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team Head Coach who, in his five-year record with the team, went 103-8-8 including the 1999 World Cup championship and the 1996 Olympic gold medal.
When asked about the importance of youth soccer DiCicco said, "The success that we have enjoyed at the international level of course starts with our players having great experiences as youth players. The role that the coach and state associations have in instilling a love for the game for these young kids so that they are excited to play, excited to train, excited to take the ball in the backyard; that’s how we’ll develop our next national stars because of what is being done, not at the international level but what’s being done at the youth level.
The youth game, because of the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer), Youth Soccer Month it coincides with what is important for our youth players and that is activity, teamwork, fun, character development, fun and more fun that’s what makes it work!"
So how important is soccer to the Soccer Caucus? Congressman Mark Udall of Colorado shared his thoughts with US Youth Soccer, “Soccer has the potential and proven history of bringing the world together it gives us the opportunity to speak the same language. You can’t go anywhere in the country and not find active youth soccer leagues.
The important aspect of soccer is that anyone can play it and it takes a minimum amount of equipment, it just takes a commitment to being physically fit and participate in a team activity. Out of that activity comes a lot of remarkable developments, that has been my experience, children become more confident, they learn how to work in a team setting, their physically active which I believe has a ripple effect with their academics – there’s no end to the benefits for an active soccer community.
It also holds communities together as parents talk and visit with each other. You meet a lot of people you didn’t know in the community due to our busy lives – soccer brings us together as adults with an emphasis on our children.
I can’t extol the positives of soccer enough.”
What does the Congressional Soccer Caucus do?
To promote legislation, activities and events that promote soccer and issues affecting the greater soccer community with our elected officials. These issues include: the increasing demand for playing fields, health and fitness, and providing at-risk youth with structured after-school activities through increased access to the sport.
The soccer community is interested in issues that provide additional means for people to enjoy playing soccer. The Foundation has been involved in the grassroots efforts to pass legislation that will enhance opportunities to play the game, such as:
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF);
The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR); and
Legislative efforts to promote the clean up and reuse of Brownfields and Superfund sites
Further, the Foundation will work with the Caucus to promote after-school programming for urban public schools (and at-risk children) along with health and wellness through its partnerships. Examples include the America SCORES, the “Make Sun Safety Your Goal” campaign with the American Academy of Dermatology and Environmental Protection Agency, the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act, and through supporting Youth Soccer Month each September.
Did you know?
Over 17 million Americans of all ages play soccer every year.
More than 11 million of these participants are under the age of 18.
Over 6 million of these players are girls and women.
Last year alone, nearly 30% of all children, under the age of 12, played soccer.
US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization with over 3 million members
Who Makes Up the Soccer Caucus?
Congressional Soccer Caucus Members 109th Congress
The Honorable Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY24) – Co-Chair
The Honorable Mary Bono (R-CA45) – Co-Chair
The Honorable George Miller (D-CA7) – Co-Chair
The Honorable Mark Udall (D-CO2) – Co-Chair
The Honorable Tammy Baldwin (D-WI2)
The Honorable Tom Davis (R-VA11)
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3)
The Honorable Mike Doyle (D-PA14)
The Honorable Bart Gordon (D-TN6)
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX18)
The Honorable Paul Kanjorski (D-PA11)
The Honorable Jim McDermott (D-WA7)
The Honorable James P. McGovern (D-MA3)
The Honorable Mike McNulty (D-NY21)
The Honorable Jim Moran (D-VA8)
The Honorable Charlie Norwood (R-GA9)
The Honorable Jim Ramstad (R-MN3)
The Honorable Rob Simmons (R-CT2)
The Honorable Adam Smith (D-WA9)
The Honorable Mark Souder (R-IN3)
The Honorable John Spratt (D-SC5)
The Honorable Ellen Tauscher (D-CA10)
The Honorable Tom Udall (D-NM3)
The Honorable Chris Van Hollen (D-MD8)
The Honorable Jim Walsh (R-NY25)
Learn more about US Youth Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Foundation by visiting their websites.