The organizations launched a serve-to-play model and partnered with local community groups to get players one hour of community service each week.
ST PAUL, Minnesota – Giving back to the community in which he grew up has been a lifelong plan for Mario Wimberly, Chief Visionary Officer at TC SOL Futsal.
“I just wanted the kids to have access and opportunities,” Wimberly said. “TC Sol was born just from me and a friend to give our kids the opportunity to make the game more accessible.”
The Karen Football Association’s Kyle Johnson had a similar plan.
“The Karen Football Association operates within the Karen community, and we have a mission to use sport for gender equality,” Johnson said. “The community loves the game and we’re emphasizing that, and we also want to highlight the young women and men in the community who are quite talented.”
Therefore, both organizations decided to create a futsal community, teaching children and young people aged 8 to 18 the sport in an inclusive environment that encourages giving back to the community.
“We have kids from St. Paul, we have kids from Prior Lake this year, we have kids from North-South Metro,” Wimberly said. “I met Johnson doing similar things across the river in St. Paul, we got together and thought we could minister to more children.”
But not the pay-to-play model found in most sports. They introduced a different method, partnering with local community organizations to let players do community service for an hour each week.
“We have this brand new serve-to-play model,” Johnson said. “We donated swimsuits to the needy community in north Minneapolis and cleaned up the sewers.”
Last year, around 160 participating athletes were able to do more than 720 hours of charitable work and plant more than 100 trees.
“We provide uniforms, mentors, coaching and lunches because we know food insecurity is another challenge,” Wimberly said.
With kids from across the metropolitan area participating, they both say the serve-to-play model eliminates financial burdens often associated with the sport and gives participating athletes the opportunity to be part of the community in which they find themselves can see represented in sport.
“We see this as a way to unite kids with futsal and football and to unite the community,” said Johnson.
The league is played at Johnson High School on the east side of St. Paul. The dates for the league are July 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th and 31st.
To learn more about the Karen Football Association, visit the website here.
To learn more about TC Sol Futsal visit the website here.
To learn more about Sol of the Cities, visit the website here.
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