Since 2015 the Trenton Youth Soccer League has been offering safe and accessible spaces for children in elementary/middle school to learn and practice soccer. When the league was in its infancy it could only support about 100 children, however they are now serving 600 girls and boys year-round with many more waiting to join.   

The TYSL’s mission since 2015 has been to engage Trenton’s youth in a safe, inclusive and fun recreational soccer program. In conjunction with this the league also aims to provide age appropriate physical exercise which supports healthy development and to help children gain the skills and knowledge needed to be healthy and productive throughout their lifetime. 

Judy McPherson, the league’s Executive Director and Board Chair sat down with Bryan Evans, Vice President at Greater Trenton this past Monday to answer some questions about her mission and experience. McPherson stated that the league is “an investment in human capital through kids which is a driver of long-term socioeconomic development.” 

Mcpherson also claims that the main issue for them is “building the neighborhood,” this means that all coaches are either physical education teachers or high school athletes from the Trenton area. The league wants to stress the importance of building parental engagement and involvement, as well as a community link with schools, families and neighborhoods all around the city. 

This after school soccer program has been approved by the Trenton Board of Education and was the winner of the I AM TRENTON award in 2019. The program is offered by PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit International, a charitable tax-exempt organization in coordination with the Trenton Public Schools, the Trenton Division of Recreation and the Department of Public Health. 

The TYSL gives children the opportunity to learn basic soccer skills, undergo soccer training and play in scrimmages/friendly league tournaments. This program functions on a seasonal schedule running through the fall, spring and summer with each segment lasting about 7 weeks. Sessions are usually held two to three times a week and can last anywhere between one hour and a half to two hours. 

The TYSL uses several public facilities (school facilities, city parks, and recreation centers) after school and during the summer to ensure safe and equal access, to keep costs low and encourage volunteerism to build civic engagement. As of December 2019, more than seven elementary/middle schools have registered to become part of the TYSL’s program to which each school brings in over 19 children each. This number has continued to grow as of 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.