Working on the Inside at MLS All-Star Weekend

Opportunity knocked for the Soccer in the Streets Lifeworks youth program in July. With the MLS All-Star Game being staged in Atlanta, there was a need for volunteers to operate the many planned events throughout the city. It was an opportunity that the program – and teens – couldn’t pass up.

Working with MLS employees and Striking Marketing, the Soccer in the Streets teens were given the opportunity to officiate the celebrity soccer games, work the event booths getting waivers signed or giving out All-Star swag, as well as working the large crowds and part of the mobile marketing team.

The Lifeworks Program for youth was created to establish career readiness amongst youth participants, preparing them with the concrete skills needed to stand out in a competitive job marketplace and for them to be successful. The program provides opportunities by using the eight pillars: career awareness, work experience, personal preparation, education plan, mentoring, service, leadership, and enrichment.

The program accomplishes its goals by providing a safe and inclusive environment for growth for the participants. It also nurtures trusting relationships with coaches and mentors with their consistent presence. In the end, it is the combination of these elements that together creates a sustainable livelihood for participants.

Studies show that work experience for teens is crucial in developing soft skills, problem-solving, and increasing self-esteem. As a metric to success, over the past seven years, the program seen the number of graduates return to work in the program as coaches, referee, event staff and administrator grow by more than 50%. And the hours that they spend in the program is well over 1,100 annually.

“If I can impart just a little bit of information, provide support or offer encouragement, I know that will be key for the kid to make that next step towards their life’s purpose and success,” said Jill Robbins, Director of Special Projects, who has been leading the Lifeworks Program for the past ten years.

Rodrigue, a youth player for the Clarkston team, gained new skills and experiences working the MLS event. “I learned discipline and how to work as a team with the other Lifeworks players,” he said. “We were able to see the behind the scenes of an event, which was something I had never experienced before, I am thankful for this opportunity.”

Soccer in the Streets worked with StriKing Marketing, an experiential marketing company focusing on bringing brands to life through meaningful experiences that connect brands to consumers in an impactful way, to give the players the opportunity to put their skills to the test.

“We were excited to expose the youth players to the behind the scenes experience,” said Whitney Faigle, a partner of Striking Marketing. "We know the high school students normally don’t get an opportunity like this. It definitely means a lot to our company to be able to provide this experience for them.”

The brother and sister team of Zuriel and Zoey Johnson had the opportunity to officiate the celebrity soccer game.  

“As a result of the experience we had at the MLS All-Star Block Party, we will be given more opportunities to referee,” said Zuriel. “After officiating the MLS Celebrity Game, my sister and I both felt more confident on the field and we gained valuable knowledge working with the head referee.”

The Lifeworks programs continues to guide the young athletes to their greatest potential. And opportunities like MLS All-Star weekend gives the kids the chance to experience and learn something new and exciting – opportunities they might not have had without Soccer in the Streets.