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U.S. Soccer Foundation at Work: Brick City Soccer Club of Newark, N.J.

CHICAGO (Monday, April 23, 2001) -
The leaders of the Brick City Soccer Club in Newark, N.J., learned just how powerful soccer and academics could be in combination when they helped roll out the original DC Scores inner city program in Washington. With that lesson and with unbounded energy, the Brick City organization now serves more than 400 minority and underprivileged youngsters in Newark, thanks in part to a 1999 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

In concert with the famed St. Benedict's Academy, which has produced numerous U.S. National Team stars, and with the Newark school system, Brick City operates a 26-week soccer program for grades five through eight, and it's growing bigger every day. Nearly 80 percent of the kids are African-American and 15 percent are Hispanic. Newark is a gritty urban landscape where the kids practice during the week on their own "turf" - usually asphalt. But on Saturday afternoons, the Brick City participants travel to St. Benedict's, which makes its first-class field facilities available free of charge for a whole day of small-sided games enjoyed by the kids and their parents alike.

The grant provided Brick City with the ability to extend its reach into the public and parochial school system in Newark and to help youngsters obtain soccer equipment, the cost of which was beyond the reach of the minority community. The response to Brick City's initiative has been phenomenal - nearly all the kids who joined had never played soccer before! But the lure of organized sports and the chance for fair and sportsmanlike competition coupled with successful learning skills, has powered this program to success.

Brick City now operates nine-week seasons in the fall and spring, an eight-week indoor program in the winter, and is now fielding U-14 boys and girls travel teams. The program has provided not only soccer skills but also social success, enriching the lives of the youngsters, the coaches and the teachers.