The men’s professional soccer franchise the Charlotte Eagles, of the United Soccer League, also helps make an impact in the community.
Four years ago the team started an urban non-profit program, called the Urban Eagles.
The Urban Eagles’ mission is to spread faith through soccer and impact the community.
Coaches and players from the Eagles volunteer for the program. The program is a 10 to 12 week summer session for players ages 10 to 18, but the coaches are often available year-round.
Urban Eagles’ Coach Stephen Jackson does not just coach players. He lives in their neighborhood as well.
As a part of Urban Eagles, coaches are able to live in the neighborhoods of the youth they work with during the summer.
“What we found is one of the big mission values as to why we exist is - soccer and coaches can influence lives,” said Charlotte Eagles General Manager Jeremy Auyer.
“We have a couple of coaches who have been pouring into these kids, who have poverty or economic issues,” said Auyer. “Everyone wants to be loved and have someone to love – we feel God called us to do this.”
Charlotte Eagles Director David Sanford believes it’s important to have a coach in the lives of both males and females.
“The role of a coach has lots of influence over our young adults,” said Sanford. “The Power of a team is a powerful environment.”
Sanford was a coach when soccer was not popular in North Carolina. He says the best part of being a coach was the relationship he had with the players.
“I had some coaches that were a positive impact on my life and I wanted to do that.”
Sanford stopped coaching in 1999, although he still gets calls from former players. Urban Eagles meets after school, partners with local churches, and holds summer camps throughout the year. The program doesn’t have much money but through partnerships, faith, and donations they make ends meet.
For more information on the Urban Eagles visit charlotteeagles.com.