Why Soccer Counts

Some research groups have identified a list of essential tools and materials kids need to grow up to be healthy, constructive adults:

  • Love and support
  • Appropriate boundaries and discipline
  • Involvement in positive, structured activities
  • Nurtured with a commitment to education and learning
  • Instilled with positive values and commitments
  • Improved skills to build self-confidence

We recognize these as common-sense requirements, but sometimes we also forget about these in the rush of our daily lives. With reflection we also recognize that they can all be part of our communities "blueprint" for raising our children and teenagers. By intentionally putting energy into building these positive things, we guide and nurture our young people to be healthy and caring. The CLEATS program specifically focuses on the role of soccer, to help construct healthy, positive human beings. And we are not alone.

Recognizing the value of sports for human health and development, the United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Sport and Physical Education. And as a result the UN is promoting sports-with the world's most popular sport: soccer-as the tool for bridging cultural and ethnic divisions and for improving quality of life for people around the world.

"Sport can play a role in improving the lives of whole communities," says U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "I am convinced that the time is right to build on that understanding, to encourage governments, development agencies and communities to think how sport can be included more systematically in the plans to help children.."

The importance and the value of soccer in the developing lives of child is understood and recognized in the United States. 92% of Americans, more than 9 in 10, recognize that participating in sports is an important part of youth development, and nearly 89% see that participating in sports helps build good character in their children.

Nearly all Americans (93%) say there are positive values for children associated with participating in sports, but what is also extremely interesting is that Americans also feel that children who do not actually play sports can still learn important values. Four in five Americans (80%) agree with the statement "kids who do not participate in sports can still learn important values by watching or attending sporting events."

Our CLEATS board members have seen this: That during training friends of our players improve their behavior, and this is also born out when these same children attend matches.

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