Crossing the Ball: A youth soccer league’s cross-sector success

blog_image_soccerWhat does soccer have to do with cross-sector collaboration? Well in one community, a youth soccer league has created a partnership opportunity that has helped the city clean up its parks and better engage its youth.

The Oak View Youth Soccer League (OVYSL) was founded, in part, to make the sport more accessible to many of the city’s residents who were unable to afford membership at the established leagues in the area. However, founder Jose Luis saw a greater opportunity to impact the community through the league.

Before the establishment of the OVYSL, unofficial adult leagues had full run of the soccer fields adjacent to the city’s elementary school. Unofficial games often left the fields damaged, and littered with garbage and empty bottles. To create a better environment for the children of the area, and contribute to the city’s revitalization – a process that began in the mid-90s through the implementation of community services – Luis approached the school’s principal to begin the process of banning the unofficial leagues.

From there, Luis teamed up with Jack Shaw, formed chairman at Deloitte and founder of the Oak View Renewal Partnership (OVRP) to coordinate the program. Through this relationship, Luis and the OVYSL developed partnerships across sectors, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, Chivas USA (a Major League Soccer team), local businesses, and both family and corporate foundations to professionalize the league and help expand the program.

While the league’s high level of competition makes it one of the best in Southern California, its achievements off the field have made it a model for cities and counties looking to re-engage their communities.