Campbell forms affordable soccer team for inner-city players


Chloe Griffith/ THE SCROLL

Ari Campbell (11) attempts to dribble past a defender at the Germantown Invitational Tournament. Midtown Soccer Club finished the game with a score of 3-3.

The current norm for a competitive youth soccer team consists of high participation fees and long journeys to out-of-town tournaments. Ari Campbell (11), a longtime competitive soccer player, recognized the lack of affordable and convenient teams for aspiring players and started a competitive soccer club of his own.

“One of the problems with American soccer is that we have a pay-to-play system, where it’s very expensive to play,” Daniel Phebus (12), a member of Campbell’s new team, said.

The team is currently working on obtaining their 501(c)(3), which would officially designate them as a nonprofit organization. Campbell hopes that the lower costs will encourage many new people to join.

“The reason we started this club was to give inner-city kids an opportunity to play competitive soccer,” Campbell said. “Our costs are the absolute minimum, only to pay the club fees and pay the coaches. In reality, this is a nonprofit soccer club.”

Despite the need for this club in the inner city, Campbell had a difficult time recruiting players who were dedicated to the team. He has had to learn to adjust to members who don’t show up to practices or games, which places a strain on the team.

“Since it’s the first year, not all of these guys that are playing are 100 percent committed,” Campbell said. “There’s some lackadaisical attitudes.”

He currently runs the team, along with the help of his mother. Campbell does the recruiting, while his mother manages the team.

“My mom has been doing a lot, so I gotta shout her out,” Campbell said. “She’s done so much for this club, and without her, I wouldn’t have been able to make this club.”

Currently, the team practices at three different locations at Greenfield Indoor Arena, the KROC Center and Tom Lee Park, with plans to expand to more practice areas. Despite the growing popularity of the club, there are only two teams who scrimmage against each other, consisting of one high school and one middle school team. They are working to train new players who have not played soccer before, and their plans for the future are bright.

“The day that I found out that this club was actually going to work—we had enough players and we had everything lined up—I was really excited and thankful that we got it all together,” Campbell said.