Soccer For The Nations helping under-served Nashville youth play the beautiful game

It is one of the founding tenets of this site that doing well is important, but doing good is even more so. Soccer For The Nations does a lot of good in the Nashville community. They have two fundraising events this week, so be sure to contribute if you can.

The way the sport of soccer has built in our country is practically unique to its growth around the world. Whereas it’s largely seen as white-collar (and, uh, just “white”) and suburban in the United States and Canada, that’s not the case around the world. Indeed, from the favelas of Brazil to the war-torn cities in West Africa or the low-income banlieues of Paris, it’s a working-class game, and an opportunity for young players to better the circumstances of their families.

The orange-slice-and-granola-bar culture in the U.S. isn’t an indication that we’re better off as a society, but rather that we’re leaving some of the most vulnerable of our neighbors behind. Soccer For The Nations, the charitable arm of The Roadies supporters group, aims to change that. They want to make the game accessible to all.

“Soccer for the Nations provides a safe, healthy and healing environment where kids can be kids and play soccer,” said Co-Director Valair Shabilla. “Our main goal is to help as many children as possible in Nashville by providing them with the beautiful game as an outlet. Our players are mainly from housing projects, as well as refugees. We provide the players with coaching, all needed equipment and register them for a league.”

Shabilla – himself a refugee who arrived from Iraq during his high school years and became a naturalized citizen in 2017 – understands just how great a tool soccer can be in building community, and in belonging to it for those who may otherwise not have strong connections to the Nashville area.

“Before the Roadies took over, Soccer For The Nations was run by two amazing women, Maegan and Rachel,” he explained. “They were invited to the Roadies tailgate for Nashville SC’s Pittsburgh match last year at Nissan. I met them and signed up as a volunteer, I ended up being an assistant coach for the U7 team and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. I witnessed firsthand how this organization helps children that are otherwise forgotten about by the community, government and even sometimes their own families.

“At Soccer For The Nations each child is listened to and valued, which is something these children don’t often have. That was enough of a reason for me to join, but also being a refugee myself I wanted to give back to these kids who I was once in their shoes. I think Middle Tennessee lacks programs like ours were kids can play organized soccer for free or even low cost. Playing organized soccer and receiving helpful coaching is very costly in America and providing kids who can’t afford it the same opportunity is very important for the growth of our city, in soccer terms as well as the culture as whole.”

Soccer For The Nations is volunteer-run, and needs your help to continue helping youngsters connect to their community through the beautiful game. Fortunately, there are a couple easy ways this very week to give:

  • Wednesday evening from 5-8 p.m., Blaze Pizza in Brentwood will be donating 20% of proceeds to SFTN if you show this flyer at the register.
  • At Saturday’s Roadies pre-game tailgate at Neighbors Germantown, there will be an equipment and food drive for SFTN’s upcoming spring season. Details at the link.

Follow SFTN on social media or head to their website for further details on how you can support the cause. If you’re an area supporter of a Premier League club (and especially if said club is West Ham United), you can also participate in the Supporters Cup to have your donation reflect positively on your supporters group.

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