CHICAGO (Dec. 2, 2021) -- December marks the second annual U.S. Disability Soccer Month, presented by Degree Deodorant. Starting Dec. 3, U.S. Soccer will celebrate programs and member organizations that support athletes with disabilities in every corner of the sport alongside Degree, who became the first-ever dedicated sponsor of the Men’s and Women’s Para National Teams early this fall.
“We’re excited to bring back U.S. Disability Soccer Month this year with the help of Degree,” said Stuart Sharp, Extended National Teams Technical Director. “It’s so important to put a spotlight on our disability soccer programs and member organizations, from the National Team level to the grassroots across disciplines. There are so many doing great things in this space and it’s inspiring to see our “Adapt and Thrive” message taken up across the country.”
Together, Degree and the USPNT are working together to redefine what it means to be a “mover” and inspiring future generations of athletes with disabilities to move with confidence.
U.S. Disability Soccer Month once again brings a number of exciting moments for the community of American soccer organizations that serve athletes with disabilities, including the Cerebral Palsy (CP), Blind, Deaf, Power, Amputee soccer and more.
The celebration kicks off on Dec. 3, International Day of People with Disabilities and will continue throughout the month on U.S. Soccer social media platforms. Virtual events will take place on Dec. 8 and 15, bringing together athletes with disabilities from across disciplines over Zoom. The Dec. 8 session will introduce the breadth of U.S. Soccer’s disability soccer organizations and partners, while the Dec. 15 event will feature a look ahead to big 2022 plans for disability soccer in the United States.
At the end of the month, U.S. Soccer will celebrate the first-ever #ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award, presented by Degree, honoring an individual making an impact in disability soccer. Nominees for the award will be announced next week.
CENTRALIZED TRAINING PROGRAM
The end of the year also marks the Men's USPNT’s return to U.S. Soccer’s groundbreaking Centralized Training Program in Atlanta. Four athletes are training together full-time at Atlanta United FC, accelerating their development through a high-performance environment that will help the U.S. win at the international level.
With players compensated as professionals, the Centralized Training Program marks the culmination of a new player development pathway for athletes with disabilities from the grassroots up.
“It’s great to finally be back on the field with our Men's USPNT players for the Centralized Training Program,” Sharp said. “For the first time, our National Team players can train full-time, year-round in a top-notch, professional environment. It's the top of the development pathway for players with disabilities - this program should pay tremendous dividends for the future as a concrete example for young CP soccer players aspiring to reach the highest level. While the program is just beginning, it’s another step towards becoming a world leader in disability soccer.”
BIG 2022 ON THE HORIZON
December serves as a lead-up for the Men's USPNT’s full return to action next year. In January, U.S. Soccer is set to host the first-ever #ADAPTandTHRIVE Invitational. The Men’s USPNT will hold its first training camp since January 2020, while the Women’s USPNT will have its first-ever identification camp to support the launch of the Women's Para National Team, both presented by Degree. CP Soccer and other disability soccer organizations have also been invited to participate in the event, which will serve as a platform for U.S. Soccer’s diverse membership. The invitational kicks off an important year for the program, as World Cup tournaments are scheduled for both men and women this spring.