Help 4WU continue to change the lives of refugee kids!
Portland is home to a growing population of African and Asian refugees as well as new immigrants from Latin America. Isolated by culture, economics, and language, these kids and families can often suffer and struggle in their new country. Several years ago, several local coaches and concerned community members realized that the game of soccer offered an amazing solution, an effective way to motivate and guide Third-World kids, but also connect them to the soccer-loving city around them. That is the mission of 4WU, and the secret of its success.
Our work starts with summer recreational soccer in three locations on the East side of town, where kids can just show up and play. Our volunteers are there week in and week out, acting as role models, giving the kids something positive to do, and handing out equipment, shoes and gear. Last year, we provided summer soccer for at least 150 kids in some of Portland’s toughest neighborhoods.
We also took 50 kids to Portland Timbers games to see their soccer heroes, some whom have come from those same war-torn countries, and we also brought the professional players to the neighborhood games. If those were the only things that 4WU accomplished, it would already have a tremendous impact.
But those summer games are also where we identify the most motivated and talented players, who could play competitively if they only had the support their first-world neighbors take for granted: money, transportation, or even knowing about the club leagues in the first place.
With the help of 4WU at least 20 players were placed on recreational and competitive teams last year. We got them to tryouts, covered their fees (at steep discounts, courtesy of our generous club partners), provided communication with coaches and managers, arranged rides to training, and held these players to high standards of behavior and academic achievement.
Many of the achievements of 4WU players, such as winning State Cups, playing for the Olympic Development Program, the Timbers Academy teams and even college, can seem amazing. But more important is the impact these experiences have on their lives and their families. Success has a ripple effect on parents, siblings, and neighbors, and today scores of at-risk families can see a brighter world of possibilities, which all started with pickup games in the park.
Big plans for 2016
This year we plan to expand. The only thing holding us back from this is securing more funding. With your support, we would like to expand beyond our East Side locations to struggling West Side communities in Hillsboro, Cornelius and beyond. Expansion would mean hiring another summer coordinator to be at each location with gear, organize volunteers and games and help 4WU locate and communicate with local players and families.
And, like always, with more funds, we could support more competitive players, getting them to soccer clubs where they could train, compete and connect with kids and families from other backgrounds, and see a life beyond their neighborhoods.
How can you help?
While 4WU has received generous donations from big organizations like Nike, the Portland Timbers, and the Multnomah Athletic Foundation, we get the bulk of our funding from caring individuals who hear the stories about our players. And there are many ways to help.
If you play soccer or have kids who do, you can join us at two yearly charity tournaments, one in June and one in November, where we provide exciting soccer events to raise crucial funds for our programs.
You can always help by spreading the word, telling people about 4 Worlds United Soccer Alliance and doing all that you can to join us in our effort to welcome our new neighbors and to truly make Portland “Soccer City USA”!