It has long been said that one reason the United States lags behind other soccer nations is that the game here is a little too structured, that kids are too quickly shepherded away from the creativity that thrives on the streets and in pickup games.
The Seattle Sounders and owner Adrian Hanauer are at least making some effort to change that, starting with Thursday’s unveiling of the RAVE Foundation. The charity’s founding principle is “Small fields. Big ideas,” and its main purpose will be building soccer-playing surfaces around the Puget Sound.
"It's been a long-term passion of mine for Sounders FC to bring free, accessible soccer to underserved communities in the Seattle area, so we're very excited as an organization to finally launch the RAVE Foundation," Hanauer said in a press release. "Soccer is a game that brings joy and opportunity to so many people around the world. We see it as an obligation to make sure that no one in our community is excluded from experiencing everything that the beautiful game affords."
The first permanent part of this initiative will be at Yesler Park, scheduled to open in spring 2017. The park will include fields measuring about 50 feet by 100 feet with walls, goals and turf or futsal surfaces. The idea is that they will accommodate small-sided games. The foundation will help build and maintain the fields, but are building them mostly with the intention that they’ll be freely available to the general public. In the meantime, they’ve also built a portable octagon that will show up at Sounders games and places like Waterfront Park.
There will be a kickoff event on Monday at Yesler Community Center where Sounders alumni will run a youth clinic.
“Some of the kids that we’re trying to reach, they really are just not participating right now,” Hanauer said in a story on the team website. “If we can get a seven, eight, or nine-year-old who would like to play soccer but can’t really participate to go out with his buddy – her buddies - and just knock a ball around, then we’ve accomplished what we want.”