Youth club evolves into worldwide foundation

[LAFC] The Los Angeles Futbol Club will now operate as part of the LAFC Foundation, expanding its work providing soccer opportunities for underserved youth worldwide.

"We believe that the name change better reflects the scope and significance of what we do," said Don Sheppard, LAFC's founder and president. "While we started with the sole intent of becoming the preeminent youth soccer club in this country, we have evolved to do so much more. We seek nothing less than to help young people everywhere live healthier, safer, better lives."

Last year, LAFC paid for two Houston teens to attend school in Los Angeles and play for one of the club's top teams. In recent months, the organization also embarked on a series of philanthropic initiatives in Africa:

-- Partnering with Duke's Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) to help fund the launch of the first girls boarding school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya and paying for construction of a playing field and track. LAFC also established a girls soccer league, arranged coaching clinics and provided uniforms and equipment.

-- Launching a community-wide, school soccer program in the impoverished South African district of Umkhanyakude. The program will draw children and teens to Mpilonhle, a mobile health program funded partly by Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project and focused on stemming the epidemic of HIV in rural South African communities.

-- Unveiling a new sports field that will benefit children orphaned by AIDS in the suburban Nairobi area of Sigona and rural Gilgil. The Umoja Sports Field will also serve the Dayspring Junior School and surrounding communities. LAFC will provide soccer balls, cleats and uniforms.

LAFC, one of the top clubs in the Development Academy, has partnered with Chelsea FC.

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