The youth program will provide clinics, equipment, apparel, and indoor facilities during the winter.
Ashtone Morgan, front right and other Toronto FC players along with Toronto FC president Bill Manning. Photo by German Alegria, courtesy of MLS.
Toronto Football Club scored two recent victories: The team defeated the Seattle Sounders on Dec. 9 to win their first MLS Championship and they managed to help local youth as part of Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative last week.
Through the league’s MLS Works program, which strives to improve the lives of people through sport, Toronto FC players and MLS executives unveiled a new Toronto FC-branded multipurpose room at the WoodGreen community facility in Toronto. WoodGreen is a founding United Way of Toronto member agency and is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, offering more than 75 innovative programs to some 36,000 families and residents of Toronto’s most marginalized communities.
The new multipurpose room, which includes a reading and lounge area, furniture, computers, and multimedia equipment, will benefit hundreds of teens and young adults associated with WoodGreen’s “Newcomer Youth Services” program, and the renovation will enhance the free programs WoodGreen provides to youth new to Canada; programs include sports, counseling, workshops, health and wellness, homework, and arts clubs.
MLS Works and Toronto FC is also providing financial support for WoodGreen Community Services’ Youth Soccer League. Toronto FC’s Soccer Development team will conduct youth programming and clinics, while the financial support will provide new equipment and apparel for year-long programming, including access to indoor facilities during the winter.
“To get guys out supporting the community two days before their championship game speaks to the character of our players,” said JoAnn Neale, chief administrative and social responsibility officer for MLS. “To bring sport, and soccer in particular, to youth allows them to engage with each other and build a sense of camaraderie.”
Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan says soccer has done exactly that for him since he was young, and now, he gets a chance to give back to his hometown — and help build lasting relationships with the next generation.
“Sports was an outlet for me to express who I really was,” he said. “It helped me make friends and stay active. I think being a positive influence and really being a strong backbone for kids is the best thing parents, coaches, and fans can do. I feel I owe a lot of my personal successes to my direct support system. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”