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Learn how Mario & Sparkle Wimberly are using futsal as a way to build future community leaders.

Youth sports can teach lifelong skills, but they aren’t accessible to all communities.

SOL of the Cities is using team sports as a way to create future leaders of tomorrow. By putting community first, power couple and co-founders Sparkle and Mario Wimberly have stepped away from the pay-to-play model to create a new avenue for youth to freely engage in the game of competitive futsal (a version of soccer) while finding opportunities to give back.

“Our model is serve-to-play,” said Sparkle. “We typically like to push football and basketball, but futsal is like basketball with your feet.”

Futsal is a type of soccer that can be played indoors or outdoors on a smaller court. Through this style of game, Sparkle and Mario have been able to eliminate the financial component usually attached to soccer, bringing together urban and immigrant youth ages 6-18 to develop a positive sense of community.

For hours of play each week, SOL of the Cities also has youth participate in one hour of community service. Activities may include recycling, drain cleaning and tree planting, to name a few.

Along with community service and education, SOL of the Cities provides over 300 youth during the summer with healthy free meals. With this goal in mind, the organization works to make sure its youth are fully nourished through activities, food and service.

Watch our third episode of Corner Conversations with Chris Garner to learn more about what SOL of the Cities is doing to make an impact on youth in the community, and what you can do too.

Inspired to Get Involved?

Here are three ways you can give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of youth today:

  1. Support local organizations and programs. Check out some of your community’s local organizations and programs for youth and figure out how you can get involved financially or by becoming a mentor or volunteer. Regardless of if you play a sport, there are always opportunities to help support youth.
  2. Identify service projects for future leaders. Find ways to get your own children or children you know involved in service. Look for volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch or HandsOn Twin Cities.
  3. Get active. Sports can have a positive impact on youth, be it making new friends, learning new skills or engaging in physical activity. If you have kids or children in your life, look for opportunities to make sure they stay fit and are having fun.

Corner Conversations feature individuals and nonprofits driving change in the East Metro and beyond by highlighting their work in connection to current topics and issues facing our communities and state.

View our previous Corner Conversations on the education opportunity gap and music education.

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