A New Kind of Collaborative Model: How We’re Partnering with WeCoach to Connect Clubs and SYBDs and Create Change

By Jamie Hancock
September 28, 2020
3 min

In 2019, only 38% of kids ages 6-12 played sports regularly, and kids from lower-income families were half as likely to play sports as those from higher-income families. These accessibility issues have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


When we launched FundPlay in 2016, we made it our mission to get more youth involved in sport—giving away technology grants to organizations serving underserved athletes and supporting them through a variety of community efforts. Our commitment to this work is even greater now that so many families are struggling to make ends meet.   


Part of what makes LeagueApps so unique is that we count both the country’s leading club and travel organizations and a number of inspiring sports-based youth development organizations (SYBDs) as our partners. Until recently, however, we had never brought them together to have a dialogue about accessibility and what the future looks like. 


That’s why we recently partnered with WeCoach to organize a series of discussions about how to create change through collaboration—convening a group of 25 organizations for a four-part virtual conversation.  


Here are some of the main takeaways from these conversations and glimpse of what we plan to do next:


• Collaborating to drive collective goals is a powerful way to drive change. This concept of “marriage” between organizations was one mentioned by Bethany Henderson Rubin, network president of America SCORES and executive director of DC SCORES.
• The pathway for a kid from a rec program to a club or travel program is often segregated and not positioned for success. There need to be support systems and structures in place for the family of the participant and a playbook for success that the organization can utilize. This issue was emphasized by Caroline Foscato of South End Soccer and Jophiel Astorga of Super Soccer Stars.
• Lack of funding is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues of inaccessibility. In order to make your sport more accessible, it’s important to:
· Recognize that there are “gatekeepers” to your sport in your community, identify these people, and work with them to create new opportunities.
· Have awareness and understanding of who is being marginalized and what their challenges are.
· Hire people who look like your participants and coaches and ensure they exist on leadership/at the board levels as well.


The system issues that lead to inaccessibility in sport have no simple fixes or easy answers. But small actions can make a significant difference. Here’s what we intend to do over the course of the rest of this year. 


1. We are going to listen to a number of important voices in the youth sports community to help us shape a set of beliefs and a vision for a more positive youth sports experience and how organizations of all types can sign on with intent.
2. We are going to offer training, professional education, technology, and recommendations to organizations that want to integrate those beliefs into their programs.
3. We are going to create a framework and a playbook by which organizations can collaborate and commit to a deep, meaningful relationship that results in mutual benefit and positive participant outcomes.
4. We will continue to play a role in the steering committee of the the PLAY Sports Coalition in order to advocate for the agreed-upon beliefs and values that the youth sports community aspires to.


We believe that collaboration and buy-in from all youth sports stakeholders is what will really move the needle when it comes to making sport accessible for all, and we’re excited to see where things go. 


If you want to be a part of the solution, provide feedback and direction, or simply hear more about the ways we are impacting the youth sports community, please reach out and let us know!