San Francisco Youth Soccer: Teaching Kids Valuable Lessons on and off the Field

By Giving List Staff   |   November 17, 2023
SFYS Youth Leadership Programs focus on educating and training middle and high school students to contribute, coach, referee, and mentor. Game Officials FC (GOFC) coached by SFYS Program Manager David Reardon is a team of high school-age players who also referee and mentor in SFYS leagues. In the 2022-23 seasons, they covered almost 30% of SFYS matches!

When Lee Dunne was growing up in England, football (or soccer – depending on who you’re talking to), was the “lifeblood” of his childhood. Not only did it bring his community together, but the sport taught him the important lessons of life: resiliency, determination, teamwork, commitment, and compassion. Soccer is a foundational part of personal development for millions of children the world over.

Based on a 2018 study conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, over 6.65 million children play soccer. That’s 6.65 million children looking up to the likes of Marta, Lionel Messi, and Kylian Mbappé. 6.65 million children reaping the rewards of personal development just like Lee Dunne did as a child.

But despite the sport’s popularity, there are also millions of children who are left out of participating in the sport, who can’t afford the life-affirming lessons soccer has to offer. That’s where Lee Dunne and San Francisco Youth Soccer (SFYS) come in. Dunne, the Director of Coaching & Programming for SFYS, wants to give every child in San Francisco the same opportunity to play the game that helped change his life when he was a child.

SFYS is a nonprofit, soccer-based community organization and is one of the largest youth participation programs in the city. More than 500 teams (6,000 kids) play soccer within SFYS leagues and an additional 2,000 players and youth benefit from SFYS free and low-cost programming and SFYS underwriting of technology and equipment grants used by SF Rec & Park for the benefit of all.

“Our mission is to get players playing and to grow the game,” says Dunne. They do this by offering a wide range of play options for every level of player and by offering team spots for a nominal fee so play is accessible. They also offer financial aid. Soccer with SFYS is all about including everyone who may want to play, at any level, wherever that player is located. “No kid needs to travel outside of the city or spend thousands of dollars on travel soccer with our program,” Dunne explains. In order to reach as many players as possible, SFYS meets parents and coaches where they are: creating coaching curriculum, offering free SFYS @ School soccer, and encouraging or supporting play at locations other than traditional soccer fields. 

As part of this broad approach, SFYS also offers a Junior Coach program, a Youth Advisory Council, Referee and Coach training, multiple Mentor programs, and a comprehensive website and portal with vast parent, neighborhood, and sport resources. The impact SFYS has on the community extends far beyond the game of soccer. Every program is designed to support the players, the families, and the community, says Dunne.


San Francisco Youth Soccer

Donate now!
Executive Director: Scotty Kober
(415) 504-8132
Director of Coaching & Programs: Lee Dunne
(415) 572-9623


To support youth soccer and leadership through sport. 

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

I’ve been a soccer parent, a STAR, a team manager, and a coach. SFYS has been more than just a game coordination organization, and I’ve really appreciated all of your efforts towards building up grassroots soccer in the city. The coaching resources, the STAR program, and the focus on sportsmanship and development are just some of the things that come to mind.
David Wehr, SFYS Volunteer

SFYS @ School Access to Sport for All Youth

The San Francisco Youth Soccer SFYS @ School Program needs your financial support to expand its current reach to additional schools in the San Francisco area. Your donations will allow their program to send coaches to more elementary schools during lunch, recess, and after school, allowing students who may not otherwise be able to play soccer to engage in pick-up games.

This innovative approach to making soccer available to all children allows kids to play soccer with their friends in a familiar space. There are no tryouts and no driving to get to a field. It’s inclusive sports at its best.

While the program is free to the schools, it requires funding to pay the coaches. $1,000 provides 20 hours/a semester of enriching, emboldening soccer play within a San Francisco school. More than 60 local elementary and middle school teams participate in SF Youth Soccer leagues. Please consider supporting their efforts to extend that community off the pitch and onto the playground!

Key Supporters

The Spaan-Woodruff Family
The Ghali Family
The Bronson Family
The Sewell Family
The Danison Family
The Kwan Family
The Fritz Family
The Colella Family
The Blessing Family
Sandy Choi
Loretta Choy
Sylviane Francou
San Francisco Orthodontics
John and Rosemarie Shield