Soccer in the Streets hosted its first-ever cup game for its youth program Girls With Goals last Saturday, the first event to be held at the recently opened East Lake StationSoccer location in west Decatur. Credit: Soccer in the Streets

Nonprofit organization Soccer in the Streets has extended its reach even further across metro Atlanta with the launch of youth scheduling at its newest soccer field in west Decatur last weekend.

Soccer in the Streets opened its East Lake location to the public late last month, adding another field to its expanding roster of StationSoccer locations based in and around the city.

To kickstart recreational activities at the new facility, the organization hosted an all-girls tournament at the East Lake field on Saturday for one of the nonprofit’s programs for young players, Girls With Goals. The match brought together 8- and 10-year-old competitors from StationSoccer’s network of fields located around the metro Atlanta area for the first championship of its kind.

Chelsea Wood, director of leadership and outcomes at Soccer in the Streets, said the tournament came to fruition as the organization’s leadership works to incorporate the new East Lake station into StationSoccer’s steadily growing network of athletic fields. She also said that the surrounding neighborhood has responded positively so far to the new field’s completion.

“The email inbox has been flooded with community members ready to use the field,” Wood said. “The energy is absolutely incredible, and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the East Lake community.”

Initially founded in 2016, StationSoccer consists of a series of soccer fields installed adjacent to MARTA transit stations around the metro area as a way to “connect Atlanta” through the use of existing transportation infrastructure. By developing a “League of Stations” across greater Atlanta, the nonprofit aims to expand local youth’s access to athletics who may be burdened by transportation barriers that restrict participation in team sports.

“I think what is really powerful about StationSoccer is that home is truly home for these players and the coaches,” Wood said. “It is a small patch of turf to outsiders, but it is a place of refuge for our participants.”

Girls With Goals is an in-house program designed to empower young girls to confidently participate and compete within male-dominated spheres. Soccer in the Streets received a $20,000 grant from protein snack brand Quest Nutrition earlier this year, a portion of which went toward developing the Girls With Goals initiative.

Wood said that Saturday’s tournament constituted many firsts for Soccer in the Streets, as it served as the Girls With Goals program’s first cup game and the first competition supported by Quest Nutrition, all of which occurred on the first day of organized youth programming at the facility.

“The most beautiful part of the station is the community it builds,” Wood said. “We are so grateful to the Quest for Impact grant for helping make this a reality. Stations serve about 200 kids each season, and we are so excited to get East Lake going.”

For a full schedule of upcoming events for both youth and adult recreational teams around metro Atlanta, visit Soccer in the Streets’ online community program calendar.