A national organization devoted to bringing the sport of soccer to children from all walks of life that calls Wilmington its home joined with local businesses and the Philadelphia Union soccer club last week to host an annual “City on the Pitch” PlayDay.
Nearly 400 children ages eight to 16 came out for the Wilmington-based Future Soccer Stars Foundation (FSS) event, which took place for the third time at UD’s Delaware Stadium. With financial support from the Buccini/Pollin Group, FSS teamed up with the Philadelphia Union to celebrate “the beautiful game” by bringing together kids who participate in the foundation’s free programs across the city. This year’s turnout quadrupled 2017’s PlayDay attendance.
“I’m not surprised at the rapid growth of our program,” said Steve Cavalier, Executive Director at FSS. “We’ve worked hard to provide kids a solution to the pay-to-play environment in soccer, one that not only provides free access but other positive and enriching experiences and lessons.”
Cavalier explained that partnerships in the community were a key to FSS’s ability to deliver free soccer programming to children who otherwise would not have exposure to the sport. One important partner this year is the Delaware Art Museum, which provided Moving & Passing, a unique soccer outreach program first commissioned in 2016 by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City that includes music, artmaking, food, and dance performances.
Future Soccer Starts Foundation’s Tyler Bastianelli was equally as captivated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and his troupe’s “cultural breaks” throughout the day as the kids were. “Watching the kids work together within the rhythm of the game, and start to hear the music and feel the interconnectivity of the game was my favorite part of the day.”
According to their website, the program is “a community engagement experience that brings together athletic skill, critical thinking, and visioning success through art. By merging the universal languages of music, dance and soccer, Moving & Passing reveals the accessible, intrinsic, and joyful connections between the arts and sport.”
Several youth organizations participated in the program including Clarence Fraim Boys & Girls Club, Fletcher Brown Boys & Girls Club, Kingswood Community Center, Latin American Community Center, Hilltop Lutheran Community Center, and William Lewis Dual Lingual Elementary School.
“We are so proud to be a leading sponsor for this spectacular and growing annual event,” said Chris Buccini, a Co-President at Buccini/Pollin. “Our goal for our 25th anniversary celebration this year is to continue delivering and supporting educational activities such as this to help build a better future for those in our hometown.”