Youth soccer in the United States usually comes at a cost, and typically not a cheap one, which is why U.S. Women’s National team star Alex Morgan believes that it’s severely hurting the growth of soccer domestically.
Morgan, who along with her USWNT teammates recently won the FIFA Women’s Cup in France, recently engaged in the Sports Matter panel as part of a collaboration between DICK’S Sporting Goods and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation.
The event was designed to announcement the two entity’s goal of providing youth sports access to one million young athletes by 2024.
“Unfortunately the pay-to-play model, I believe, is getting worse in soccer than when I played competitive soccer (growing up),” Morgan said. “It’s a very inexpensive sport and the fact that we’ve made youth soccer in the U.S. more of a business than a grassroots sport is, I think, detrimental to the growth of the sport in the U.S.”
With the growing costs that are associated with playing for club teams, as well as travel fees, lodging, food and apparel/equipment, accessibility to the sport for children that come from lower-income families is greatly limited.
Morgan says she’s not sure how to fix the current root of this problem, but that there is a definite need for change.
“I’m not sure how to fix it but I think it needs to go back to looking at grassroots and seeing around the world soccer is not an expensive sport,” Morgan said. “It’s actually played barefoot in many countries and all you need is a ball and goal posts, and the goal posts can be trash cans or whatever is nearby.”