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Soccer ballThe Shrine, long known for its commitment to the children of North America through its support of Shriners Hospitals for Children, in 1993 expanded that commitment to create Shriners Soccer. Through the Shrine's soccer program, local Shrine groups sponsor youth soccer teams, and the Shrine joined forces with the United States Youth Soccer Association in a cooperative effort to promote youth soccer. Within two years of the program's inception, there were more than 125 Shrine Temples and hundreds of Shrine Clubs and Units sponsoring more than 1,000 youth soccer teams throughout North America.

The Shrine supports youth soccer teams in order to promote youth soccer as a healthy and beneficial sport for boys and girls regardless of their physical size or skill level.

"Sponsoring youth soccer teams provides another way for Shriners to get involved in their communities and to demonstrate our desire to help children beyond the tremendous resource we provide through Shriners Hospitals," explained Ken Smith, chairman of the Shrine's Athletic Committee.

The USYSA is recognized nationally as the premiere youth soccer association in the United States, and approximately 2 million children participate in USYSA-affiliated teams, according to Robert Contiguglia, M.D., USYSA president. "We're very pleased to establish a working relationship with the Shrine to promote soccer as a sport that all children can participate in and derive many benefits from."

"We see Shrine Soccer as an 'everyone-wins' situation," Smith added. "Our Shrine Temples and Clubs experience the benefits of the positive exposure in their community, and the kids get a chance to have fun and pursue physical fitness by participating in the world's most popular sport."

The local Shrine groups sponsor youth soccer teams by paying for the cost of outfitting the team, Smith explained. "Also, many Shriners on their own get personally involved in the teams their Temples sponsor," he said.

"We're very excited about Shrine Soccer," Smith said. "It provides Shriners with a tremendous opportunity to help kids and increase awareness of our fraternity in the communities in which we live. I hope every Noble will get behind this worthwhile project."

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