The Children’s Trust and partners use soccer to help children develop

New initiative brings soccer to more youth; builds social skills

It has never been a better time to be a soccer fan in South Florida. The best player in the world, Lionel Messi, plays for Inter Miami CF. The final of the Copa America will be played in Miami-Dade County next summer, and Miami will be one of the FIFA World Cup host cities in 2026.

And as thrilling as it is to be a fan, it is an even better time to be a young soccer player in Miami-Dade. That’s because The Children’s Trust has partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Miami-Dade County, and Griffin Catalyst to form the Miami-Dade Soccer Initiative that will bring soccer to all corners of the county, especially underserved communities. Not to watch – but to play!

The ambitious initiative is to build 50 new soccer mini-pitches throughout the county by 2026 to reach 36,000 Miami-Dade youth by 2030. The mini-pitches will bring free soccer programming that will allow children to enjoy the sport’s physical, mental, and emotional benefits.

While professional sports like soccer can unite communities, The Trust knows that participating in sports and being part of a team helps children and youth build essential social skills that help them develop into well-adjusted adults. At the same time, being engaged with teammates under the guidance of a coach will keep many teens away from negative situations like being left alone with no direction and lessen the chances of getting in trouble.

The Trust has partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program since 2017, a program that brought thousands of kids the benefits of exercise and fun while leading to better attitudes toward school and homework, improved relationships with peers and teachers, and increased positive self-views. The Miami-Dade Soccer Initiative is building on that success and taking it to the next level with the introduction of the Just Ball League.

Already a success story in New York City and Los Angeles, the Just Ball League focuses on more than just creating players; it seeks to establish a community support system. Coach-mentors, called “playmakers,” guide players, identify and address their diverse needs, and encourage them to thrive, regardless of background.

The Just Ball League and mini-pitches have already started to pop up, with the first opening at Centro Mater in Little Havana, followed by another one at Everglades Village in Homestead, and a third at the Villa Del Lago apartment complex in Miami Gardens, operated by Ten North Group (formerly Opa-locka Community Development Corporation).

As more pitches are built, the community will find that these spaces represent more than just room to kick a ball. These mini-pitches are safe places for youth to develop, build friendships, and become responsible adults.

The Just Ball League is about more than soccer skills, as it instills life skills in young players. The impact of the league in other markets is inspiring, with 95 percent of participants developing more confidence, 94 percent feeling happier, 84 percent feeling less stress, and 81 percent having new friends.

As our community welcomes the world to watch high-level athletes play soccer in Miami-Dade in the next few years, The Trust and its partners are proud that we are doing our part to utilize the sport to nurture our children and strengthen our community for the future.

For more information on The Children’s Trust’s support of youth soccer, visit, and to find a Just Ball League location in your neighborhood go to and visit




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