"This is the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down. You pay for having your kid play soccer. So we need to find ways to connect, however that could be, to connect with Hispanics, to connect with everybody in the soccer environment in the U.S., and to get kids who are really hungry, to get kids on technical level to perform, and what I mean is first touch." - Jürgen Klinsmann
Chicago, IL - In an effort to boost graduation rate amongst young Latinos, the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) announced on Wednesday, April 6 the nonprofit's innovative project: the UNO Soccer Academy.
This K-8 elementary school will be made available to 575 students.
With soccer being the No. 1 sport within the Latino community, UNO organizers believes that by providing a soccer-based Charter School, more Latinos will be better prepared for High School.
In addition, students at the Soccer Academy will have the opportunity to receive a scholarship to play soccer for a reputable High School while being prepared to excel in their classrooms.
The overall goal is for students who attend the UNO Soccer Academy will more than likely complete their High School education. While not every student may ever play professionally, many Latinos will have a greater chance of going to college.
"We have a tremendous amount of soccer talent within our community," said Juan Rangel, CEO of UNO.
"Unfortunately, a lot of kids may have the soccer skills, but they do not have the academic background."
Currently under construction, the UNO Soccer Academy is scheduled to open this fall. With nine charter schools under their belt, this will be UNO's 10th charter school. Once opened, the UNO Soccer Academy will feature an academic curriculum which will be connected with Soccer.
In addition, to their academic studies, the charter school will have physical fitness program where the students will have USSF Licensed coaches who will implement the Instructional practices and professional development guided by the USSF guidelines.
Not only will students benefit from a quality education, they're also going to have their athletic/personal/psychological development monitored by their coaches.
In order to ensure that the UNO Soccer Academy will successful, the Chicago Fire and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will support and play a role in this project while continuing their partnership with UNO.
Both the Chicago Fire Head Coach, Carlos De Los Cobos and Head Coach of UIC's Men's Soccer Team expressed that by having a Soccer Academy that focuses on Academics and Athletics, many talented players will have a greater probability of obtaining a college scholarship.
For a child to be enrolled in the UNO Soccer Academy, their parents/guardians will have to turn in an application.
Once the application is submitted, that child will be eligible to selected via Lottery which will be held in May 2011.
In order to obtain an application, one can visit any one of the following UNO Campus:
Officer Donald J. Marquez School: 2916 W. 47th St; Chicago, IL 60632
Veterans Memorial Campus: 4248 W. 47th St; Chicago, IL 60632
For more information about the United Neighborhood Organization: www.uno-online.org
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He's also a Columnist for USSoccerPlayers.com; Your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.