Film by Craig Teper
Most developed countries have a national soccer league for children with ambulatory cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injury. The US does not. We are changing that.
CP Soccer’s mission is to build a nationwide soccer league for kids who suffer from cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injury. Currently, there is a clear path in the US for able-bodied kids to play soccer throughout their youth and up to the highest levels, culminating in the Olympics. For people with developmental disabilities, there are programs like TOPS Soccer, which leads to the Special Olympics at the highest level. Paralympic Soccer is the highest level of play for people with physical disabilities, who are otherwise developmentally able. To qualify for Paralympic Soccer, players must have some sort of brain injury – cerebral palsy, stroke or traumatic brain injury. While there are national feeder systems for Olympic Soccer and Special Olympic Soccer, there has been no national program for kids who would qualify for the Paralympics, until now.
Many other countries have a national network of CP Soccer teams that function as a league, and enable people with CP to participate in soccer from a young age through to adulthood. England and Scotland, in particular, have very robust leagues, with every major city sponsoring a local team. By contrast, the US has had no league and therefore no access to CP Soccer for young people who love to play. This is important because most kids who would qualify for CP Soccer find they are not capable enough to continue playing on competitive teams as they grow older and the level of play rises. They can’t keep up with able-bodied peers, so they end up being pushed out of the sport. By creating a national league, we are building a way for these kids to keep soccer in their lives.
Intro to the Sport
CP Soccer started operations in September 2017 in the New York metro area. Our plan was to establish a successful local team and build from there. To date, we have five teams (NYC, New Jersey, Mid Atlantic, Houston and South Florida) serving over 50 kids who regularly attend practices. In fall 2019, we are adding three more teams: Atlanta, New England and North Texas. To sponsor awareness and speed this process, in June 2018 we launched a sleep-away camp program, where kids with CP from across the country can play soccer and train with other kids like them. 16 kids attended our inaugural camp and thoroughly loved the experience, and in June 2019 we hosted 27 campers. As camp attendance grows, we will encourage the families of kids who attend our camp to start their own local teams. We now have a system in place to coach them on the startup process and we offer financial support where needed to help get them off the ground. In this way, we hope to build out a national league of local teams who can come together at least once a year and participate in a tournament. We believe this could be a life-changing experience for many young people with CP.
To fund the above programs, we are soliciting donations. The primary purpose of our fundraising is to subsidize field time, coaching expenses, camp expenses and tournament costs, and startup costs for new teams. Now that we have grown, we have also started to incur significant overhead expenses for insurance, team management software, and important areas of risk management, like background checks for coaches. While some of our teams receive donated field time and coaching, many of them need to pay $100-200 for each practice. We also subsidize uniforms for all the kids, and offer financial aid to attend our camp. For our first camp, about 1/3 of the players received financial support. To date, we have not charged any families to participate in CP Soccer programming other than our summer camp, and we want all children who qualify to be able to participate, regardless of means. Cerebral Palsy Soccer, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit entity, and all donations are tax-exempt. If you want your donation to target a specific team or program, just clarify that in the donation form and 100% of the proceeds will go to that team.
Recruit 20 to 30 regular attendees per regional team, a total of 100 kids in 2018/19.
Raise $10,000 per team per year to subsidize field time, coaching, equipment, transportation and uniforms. For 2018/19 our goal is $50,000 in fundraising.
Provide 1,000 kid hours of soccer per regional team per year. For 2018/19 our goal is 5,000 kid hours of soccer.
Recruit 40 kids from across the US to attend our summer camp in June 2019.
Kickstart two to five new regional teams per year until we have full national coverage.
Raise sufficient funds to subsidize the annual summer camp and a national tournament @ $50,000 per year.
Ultimately, create an endowment to cover all subsidies in perpetuity.