TORRANCE, CA. & Chicago, IL (February 9, 2023) — The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and Chicago Fire FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) are pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership, furthering their respective commitments to developing well-rounded youth through the sport of soccer.
Through this new partnership, the Fire will provide resources that reach beyond the physical and tactical aspects of the sport to support AYSO’s players, coaches, and families on a holistic level. In collaboration with AYSO, the Fire will integrate its Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) tools within AYSO’s nationwide curriculum to develop well-rounded youth, on and off the field. Additionally, the Fire will provide AYSO members with professional-level services, such as in-person and virtual workshops and trainings, educational resources, and exclusive experiences at Fire home matches during the 2023 season.
“The Chicago Fire’s Soccer In The Community department are industry-leaders with their outcome-based education curriculum, which prioritizes and integrates SEL with technical soccer development”, said AYSO Director of Sport Development, Scott Snyder. “We are delighted to partner with them to further support the development of the whole child and help make AYSO the most holistic youth sports program in the U.S.”
A pioneer in the youth development space, the Fire has utilized the sport of soccer as a vehicle to bring children together to play and learn important life skills for more than a decade, serving thousands of children in Chicagoland annually. Through its Soccer In The Community team, the Fire is able to provide greater access to the sport to a wide range of communities, offering a comprehensive curriculum that places a strong emphasis on developing youth both on and off the field. With this new partnership, the Fire will be able to expand its ongoing work to support youth soccer players on a national level.
“We are proud that AYSO has chosen to partner with us. We recognize the important role sport plays in a child’s development, and we have been intentional about incorporating important life skills into our soccer programs and curriculum,” said Chicago Fire FC Senior Director of Community Soccer, Lee Hannant. “This national partnership validates the work we have been doing in this space and we look forward to working alongside AYSO to make an even greater impact on youth soccer players in Chicago and across the country.”
“AYSO gave me an opportunity to compete as a kid, foster new friendships and learn how to work within a team,” added Chicago Fire FC winger, Chris Mueller. “It introduced me to the game that I love and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to develop with AYSO. I’m thrilled that the Club is partnering with an organization that had such an impact on my life and will now continue to impact many more youth soccer players.”
As part of its Project Play Champion award by the Aspen Institute, AYSO is introducing SEL to its curriculum in a more practical and intentional manner. AYSO has been a leader in youth development with its distinct philosophies and child-centered approach, and this partnership is the latest example of the organization’s aim to be deliberate with its efforts and bold in its commitment to explicitly target social and emotional competencies.
AYSO has made it a focus to partner with organizations whose missions and values align with the organization. The Chicago Fire’s longstanding approach to integrate SEL across all their training will strengthen AYSO’s mission to truly enrich children’s lives by going beyond soccer’s technical, physical, and tactical aspects, providing a more holistic experience, and creating environments that are rich in life skills. Building on Project Play’s Calls for Coaches campaign, this offering provides practical application to soccer-based curriculum.
Established in 1964, AYSO is a national nonprofit organization that develops and delivers quality youth soccer programs, which promote a fun, family environment based on AYSO’s Six Philosophies: Everyone Plays®, Balanced Teams, Open Registration, Positive Coaching, Good Sportsmanship, and Player Development. Today, AYSO has 1.6 million players, parents, siblings and volunteers. For more information, visit www.AYSO.org.
About Chicago Fire FC
The Chicago Fire Football Club was founded in 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire and will kick off its 26th season in Major League Soccer in 2023. The Fire have won six major domestic championship titles, including the 1998 MLS Cup, the 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, as well as the 2003 Supporters’ Shield. The Club’s charitable arm, the Chicago Fire Foundation, was recognized as ESPN’s 2019 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. The Fire plays their home matches at historic Soldier Field. For more information, visit www.chicagofirefc.com.
Yvonne Lara, AYSO