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Celebrating 50 Years of ASA: Access4All

Leading up to the Golden Gala—ASA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on March 26, 2022—we are sharing interesting historical facts about the history of ASA. Check in each week to learn about the history of the club, what the early years looked like, who was involved and much more! [Here’s week 1, week 2 and week 3 in case you missed them].

Excerpt from a Fall 1994 ASA Newsletter:

According to our policy, we do not turn away any child who wants to play because of inability to pay the registration fee. In the past, our donations covered the majority of the scholarships that were requested. However, that is not the case for 1994. During our spring season, we received $3,822 in donations, and provided $6,401 in scholarships. We provided a chance for 167 children in Alexandria to play soccer this year. Thank goodness we had money in our scholarship fund carried over from 1993.

Yes we know how tight the economy is, and we know some consider sports activities a luxury, but soccer does what many other activities in Alexandria do not. It allows for an international game to be played by culturally diverse teams on the local level. Soccer is a true melting pot for children from various countries and backgrounds to learn to work as a team, despite language and other barriers that normally keep them from becoming friends.

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In 2022 we use slightly different language than 30 years ago but our sentiment is much the same. We remain committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to participate and have structured our budget and organization to ensure we can always say YES.

We know now that tuition cost is not the only barrier to play for many families and in 2014 we launched the Access4All Project to support safe places to play, free programming at schools, uniforms and equipment, community partnership play opportunities, scholarships and more.

In 2017, as part of the Access4All Project we launched the free After School Soccer Leagues at two title 1 elementary schools in Alexandria. This program is a successful and vibrant partnership between ASA, ACPS and the Alexandria Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities.

Over the past five years we’ve hosted free After School Leagues at all title 1 elementary schools, GW Middle School and Alexandria City High School. Students receive a healthy snack, participate in soccer or futsal programming and catch a late bus home when the session is finished (many walk home with their parents who have come to watch the last part of the practice!).

The Access4All Project has included the development of eight neighborhood futsal courts around the city, hundreds of “gym class takeovers” at elementary schools and scholarship support for core programming.

Kids play soccer at the After School League program at Cora Kelly Elementary School.

The Access4All project has become a model for sport clubs and associations across the country. ASA leadership has shared and presented this successful partnership—between city schools, city parks & rec department, and a non-profit soccer club—to the US Soccer Foundation Urban Soccer Symposium, US Youth Soccer, Virginia Youth Soccer Association, and at the United Soccer Coaches annual convention. Alexandria is a gold standard community!

Excerpt from a 1998 ASA newsletter:

Compared with other clubs in Northern Virginia, the most striking difference is the number of scholarships offered. We are offering almost twice as many scholarships. We have made a strong commitment to ensure any child has a chance to play, regardless of ability or income. That commitment is expensive, but it is what our association is all about. It is what is at risk if we cannot find new resources.

Over the past decade, the professionalization of the club (as described here) has allowed us to support more kids than ever before. We believe in the power of sport to teach life skills and lessons as well as keep kids active and physically healthy. We are committed to ensuring kids have the experiences of running around on the field with friends, high-fiving teammates, overcoming adversity, listening to a coach, scoring a goal(!) and so much more.

This year ASA will provide more than $500,000 of scholarship support to over 1500 players who participate in programs such as Rec, Academy, Camps and more. The Access4All Project is made possible by our Community Fund. Access to soccer for many kids in the community would not be possible without generous support from individual donors, partners, grants and community sponsors. (A great way to support ASA and the Community Fund this year is by attending the Golden Gala!)

Students play soccer in the After School League programs at middle and high schools in Alexandria.

We are proud to carry on commitments to access and quality, which have been central to ASA’s mission since the beginning.

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