My View: Reach out

"Need" isn't among the 12 criteria used by the U.S. Soccer Foundation to evaluate grant applications. "USSF involvement" is, so it's no surprise that of the first $2.4 million of World Cup profits the Foundation shelled out, 47 percent went directly to the USSF and most of the remaining 53 percent went to USSF-affiliated organizations.

Of course, all of the 22 recipients need the money. But in the decision-making -- by a board of USSF officials who will dole out $2 to $5 million annually forever -- they should weigh one organization's need against another.

Do, for example, large, densely populated cities need funding for soccer facilities and equipment more desperately than suburban areas?

This year, the board judged the USSF needed $766,000 over the next three years to hire coaches. It sent a total of $25,000 to the Los Angeles area, which has the largest number of players among U.S. metropolitan areas. (That grant went to add soccer to program for at-risk children.)

The Houston Parks & Recreation Department received $195,000 for youth soccer and $25,000 grant went to a Chicago inner-city program. But other metropolitan areas with staggering numbers of players and field shortages -- e.g., Miami, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia -- received no funds.

An official of a 20-year-old foundation warned me not to draw conclusions from a foundation's first-year of grants, because applications will increase dramatically and come from a greater variety of sources following the publicity of the first grants.

But I am still worried that organizations in dire need of money do not know about the World Cup windfall's availability.

That's why the Foundation should form an outreach program to identify worthy causes, even if it means looking outside the Federation.

by Soccer America Senior Editor Mike Woitalla

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