CHICAGO (Oct. 11, 2018) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club received the Community Award at the Leaders Sports Awards held this week at the iconic National History Museum in London, England. The Fire’s P.L.A.Y.S. Program (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer) was highlighted as the top community initiative among entries from more than 15 countries. In partnership with Facebook, the Leaders Sports Awards’ Community category identifies and celebrates an organization or group using sport to bring a community together.
“It is an honor to see the Fire’s contributions to the community recognized at the Leaders Sports Awards,” said Chicago Fire Owner and Chairman Andrew Hauptman. “On behalf of everyone involved with the Chicago Fire, we are extremely proud of the P.L.A.Y.S. Program, as well as our extensive community engagement efforts. We are committed to helping transform the lives of youth from all walks of life and will continue to always try to make a positive impact in the neighborhoods of our great city.”
As part of Leaders Week London, the Leaders Sports Awards recognizes companies and individuals shaping the future of sport.
P.L.A.Y.S., the signature program for the Chicago Fire Foundation, is helping to change the trajectory of underserved youth in Chicago through innovative and enriching sports-based programming. Recognizing two major voids within the Chicago community, P.L.A.Y.S. was created to address the lack of after-school programming and the need to improve academic performance in Chicago Public Schools. Through a soccer and social and emotional learning (SEL) based curriculum, program participants engage in five out-of-school hours per week over 10 weeks and participate in three game days. P.L.A.Y.S. has engaged more than 2,500 students since the inception of the program in 2013. Research shows a 50 percent drop in crime near these program spaces. Participants also have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions, and failing grades, among positive impacts in their communities and home life.
The Fire has previously received the 2016 Beyond Sport Team of the Year Award, as well as the 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Team of the Year Award, in recognition of the group's outstanding charitable programming efforts. Earlier this year, the Club was selected as a finalist for ESPN’s 2018 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award.
Additional information on the Chicago Fire Foundation can be found at www.chicago-fire.com/community.