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Article: Oakland Genesis - Making Youth Soccer Accessible

Kid smiling in classroom wearing Oakland Genesis Soccer Jersey

Oakland Genesis - Making Youth Soccer Accessible

Oaklandish is proud to collaborate with Oakland Genesis, a youth soccer organization that shares our ambition to empower, educate, and inspire the next generation of Oakland leaders.

Oakland Genesis offers professional soccer training, free transportation, and academic support to underserved Oakland youth. Their programs empower young people to leverage their athletic passions into big dreams, personal growth, educational achievement, and life success.

Oakland Genesis strives to equalize access to professional club soccer training. Co-founders Cody Pillon and Matt Fondy created the organization to address the inequality and barriers many young people face in participating in competitive club soccer.

In Oakland, club soccer typically costs around $3,000 a season to cover cleats, jerseys, equipment, training, tournaments, and travel expenses. Transportation to and from practices and matches can take up to seven hours a week for many young people. These challenges often make it impossible for low-income youths with the athletic talent and ambition to participate in competitive league soccer.

In short, the pay-to-play system creates unequal opportunities by restricting participation in competitive club soccer to well-resourced youth while excluding many others with equal talent, especially girls and low-income youth of color.

These barriers to participation have long-term implications for many young people. Participation in club leagues is a de facto recruiting prerequisite for aspiring college athletes. National data indicates that 95% of female and 93% of male college soccer players played competitive club soccer in high school. The pay-to-play system effectively devalues athletes whose families cannot afford club fees and prevents low-income families from accessing organized club teams.

Access to life-enriching extracurricular activities, like quality team sports, profoundly impacts a child's social-emotional development and academic achievement. Studies show that participation in team sports reduces chronic school absences, reduces detention and suspension rates, lowers involvement in gangs and crimes, and improves academic achievements and self-esteem.

Structured sports team training provides life-enriching after-school activities for kids. Being part of a team teaches collaboration, cooperation, diligence, and goal setting. Most importantly, high school sports provide a vital pathway to higher education, especially for first-generation youth for whom college doesn't feel like a viable option.

Founders Cody and Matt say, "We're proud to partner with Oaklandish to continue our pursuit to use soccer as a vehicle for healthy youth development. With the release of our new hoodies and jerseys, we hope to spread the 'local love' a little further. Join us in our mission!"

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