UPDATED BELOW. The old adage goes that it's better to give than to receive, and for American Soccer fans, there are many worthy soccer charities that try to make the world a better place through the beautiful game. 2009 has been a tough year for many, but if you have a few dollars to give (and receive a tax refund), please consider a donation (the best "nation" on earth!) to one or more of these footie-focused charities:
US Soccer Foundation: Beneficiary of profits for World Cup USA '94, The foundation's goal is simple: to enhance, assist and grow the sport of Soccer in the United States. Over the years, the USSF has provided grants to support field development in urban, suburban, and rural settings from coast to coast. The Foundation also manages the hugely successful "Passback" program, which encourages the soccer community to donate their lightly used soccer equipment and footwear. Today, the annual Foundation Holiday Auction launched, giving fans the opportunity to bid an autographed jerseys and soccer balls from MLS and around the world. Twitter
Grassroot Soccer: Launched by Survivor winning Ethan Zohn, Grassroot's missing is to use the power of soccer in the fight against HIV and AIDS, Grassroot Soccer provides youth worldwide with the knowledge, life skills and support to live healthier lives. With a focus on the African continent, Grassroot offers a "life-skillz curriculum" and empowers community role models to the tools to educate area youths. TwitterFacebook
Nothing But Nets: Another Africa-focused charity, Nothing But Nets provides inexpensive but lifesaving malaria nets to families across the continent. M.L.S. Works is a partner. Over the past three years, NBN has provided over 2.8 million nets, saving millions of young lives. TwitterFacebook
The Fugees Family: Coach Luma Mufleh and her amazing Fugees Family are helping to enrich the lives of countless new Americans. From Mufleh's home base of Clarkston, GA, the Fugees Family provides refugee children from around the globe focus on education, character, and of course, soccer. The team was the subject of Outcasts United by New York Times journalist Warren St. John. Twitter
Little Feet: Started by American Airlines pilot Trevor Slavick and Denver radio host Steffan Tubbs, Little Feet provides soccer balls to children in over 40 countries from around the world. LF also supports a community in Honduras by exchanging native coffee beans for new soccer equipment. Just in time for the World Cup, LF has partnered with Sam's Army and American Outlaws to produce a US Supporters' T-Shirt. For every shirt purchased, LF will donate a soccer ball to the children of South Africa. Twitter
AmericaScores: Serving over 6,000 urban youths in 14 American cities, AmericaScores provides literacy workshops that have generated nearly 20,000 literary works each year. Combined with a focus on soccer (of course), AmericaScores kids get 10x the amount of physical activity than the national average. Adidas is a national sponsor. Twitter Soccer in the Streets: SitS gives life skills with soccer skills and helps at-risk kids in the Atlanta, GA area thrive at school and at home through out-of-school programs, mentoring relationships, academic support and hands on experience. SitS boasts affiliates in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Pennsylania, South Carolina & Texas. TwitterFacebook
PledgeMySeat: This UK-based charity offers soccer boots for underprivileged kids in Africa. In a nice touch, users, "buy" a seat in a virtual Soccer City Stadium, the site of the 2010 World Cup Final. Seats cost 15 pounds, with virtual luxury boxes available as well. Twitter Soccer Without Borders: This East Bay-based group uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the lives of marginalized youth. SWB projects have taken place in Oakland, NYC, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Uganda, and El Salvador. Facebook
Please do your best this holiday season to give as much as you can to these great charities! You'll be glad you did!
I'm a media industry veteran and soccer fanatic since the days of the NASL. I've lived in and around New York City most of my life, and support the New York Red Bulls and the US Men's National Team.
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org