How Minnesota Youth Soccer Develops Future Olympians

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Photos courtesy of MYSA from the Olympic Development Program Showcase

Originally founded in 1969 as Minnesota Junior Soccer, the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) officially incorporated into a single governing body in 1987 with a simple philosophy: Fair, safe and enjoyable soccer for youth players of all skill levels and their families. Soccer for everyone.

Soccer is the world’s game. It’s played in barrios and favelas, in streets and on sandy beaches. 

Some of the greatest to ever play ‘the beautiful game’ have famously come from humble origins. Pelé became known around the globe for his immaculate skills as a player, but he started off as a boy in his native Brazil with a soccer ball made out of grapefruit skins and socks stuffed with scraps of paper. 

These inauspicious origins are indicative of the universal appeal of soccer. Not much is needed to get a game going — just a few markers for a goal and something vaguely round to kick about. The MYSA proudly carries on this firmly egalitarian spirit. 

Anyone can play, at any time and in any place. Brianna Scurry, for example. Or Tony Sanneh. 

tony sannehProducts of the MYSA, both of these stellar athletes went on to storied careers for both club and country. Brianna Scurry, one of the best female goalkeepers the USA has ever produced, won multiple Olympic Medals and World Cup trophies. To this day, Brianna is widely regarded as one of the most talented female players in soccer history. Tony Sanneh is a remarkable story in his own right. With a career spanning more than twenty years, Sanneh was a pivotal player for the United States Men’s National team and one of the first to break into the competitive ranks of European football, playing for multiple teams in the Bundesliga, Germany’s premier soccer league.

While the Twin Cities are a far cry from international soccer competitions, players like Tony Sanneh and Briana Scurry have to come from somewhere. To be specific: they came from Minnesota. 

For the next generation of soccer talent set to emerge from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the future is bright. Although the North Star State has already produced two world-class players, organizations like the MYSA are working tirelessly to keep this tradition of excellence alive.

According to Ashley Jacques, Director of Coach & Player Administration, “The Minnesota Youth Soccer Association promotes the game of soccer for all youth in Minnesota. We promote the importance of education, self-esteem, diversity and teamwork in a safe, fun environment, allowing players to develop to their fullest potential in soccer and in life.”

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Ashley recently worked with Double Good to fundraise for the MYSA Olympic Development Program (ODP) teams. ODP is a program to identify and promote the most talented young players in American club soccer, to train and develop them into the next players to potentially put on the Red, White, and Blue of the Men’s and Women’s U.S. National Teams. The program involves a lot of travel — some teams even go international to take on other youth teams for scrimmages and organized tournaments at both the club and country level. 

“We utilized the Double Good fundraiser for our Olympic Development Program,” she said. “We made this fundraiser available to families who participate in ODP because there can be many fees which accompany participation in this program. We wanted to offer an opportunity to offset those fees with a fundraiser. As an administrator, the fundraiser was simple to set up and communicate to the families. There was no product to be handled or cash to be dealt with, making it easy on the parents. And, the online aspect made it fun for the players to promote on social media. ODP families loved having the opportunity to fundraise (and the popcorn itself)!”

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Ashley said the fundraiser was easy but also an efficient way for the talented athletes involved with ODP to maximize their commitment to training and preparation for the many local, regional, and national tournaments they play in.

“The players could then use the money, which they raised themselves, to put towards their soccer expenses, specifically toward ODP expenses. By the end of the fundraiser, the players had all together raised over $13,000, with a few players raising $700+ on their own,” Ashley said. Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged by Ashley and the incredible coaches, organizers, players, and parents. It’s a fun, community-focused organization getting kids involved in the game.

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Got your own team that needs to raise funds? We got you.

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