The mission of Seattle Sounders FC is to create moments, enrich lives and unify through soccer.
It’s a simple yet genuine ethos that has informed countless decisions by the club since joining Major League Soccer in 2009. And when the Tacoma Defiance take the pitch at Starfire Stadium for their first MLS NEXT Pro match, it will be in service of that of that foundational aspiration for the club.
In 2022, the ticket revenue for all Defiance matches at Starfire Sports will directly benefit RAVE Foundation, the charitable arm of Sounders FC. More specifically, the funds generated from ticket sales will go toward RAVE’s 26 by 2026 campaign designed to build 26 free-to-play mini pitches in under-resourced communities by the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
“I think it’s excellent,” said Defiance head coach Wade Webber. “So many things about this club make me proud to work for it, where they stand on all sorts of issues in the world today, and this is one of them: Soccer for All. We’re developing the sport in the community. We want to be a community asset.”
The Tacoma Defiance are all about development and producing players for the First Team. Collaborating with RAVE Foundation to help fund mini pitches and futsal courts for kids in communities that don’t have the necessary infrastructure is simply the natural progression for Seattle’s MLS NEXT Pro side.
Working side-by-side with RAVE Foundation, the Defiance are now a vehicle for development on the field and in the community.
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“We’re talking about giving children access to free play in their own neighborhoods. The goal is for kids to be able to walk to their own field and play there, any time they want, because it has not been reserved by an outside group,” said VP of Philanthropy & Executive Director of RAVE Foundation Ashley Fosberg. “Many of the communities we invest in are historically redlined communities where green space and amenities like parks and play space don’t exist. We also aim to give every child living within a walkable mile of a RAVE field their own soccer ball to play with.”
The Sounders organization has a deep commitment in four social impact arenas for change: Fight Racism, Stand for LGBTQ+ Equality, Protect our Planet, and Defend the Right to Play. While this partnership most directly supports the fourth pillar, all of these cornerstones are driven by a desire to use soccer as a vehicle for substantive, lasting change.
To be clear, RAVE Foundation’s purpose for building out this soccer infrastructure goes beyond just building mini pitches and courts.
"We don’t just build a play space and walk away,” noted Fosberg. “We provide programs that can wrap around a community and use soccer to help solve problems. We heard from local educators that parents in lower-income communities needed more resources to help their preschool students get ready to enter Kindergarten ready to learn. We worked with early learning educators to design a curriculum that gives parents the tools, using a soccer ball, to help their young ones move their bodies while firing their cognitive skills. This program, called First Kicks, was built from a need identified by communities, and we hope to bring it to every community where a RAVE field exists. In fact, Tacoma Defiance players helped us demonstrate the program at our field opening at Boze Elementary in Tacoma last year.
“We have multiple programs that serve different age groups and different needs that were identified by the community,” continued Fosberg. “These programs use soccer as the hook, but they’re not about soccer at all. They help children learn and foster wellness.”
Examples of programs placed on and around RAVE fields include art workshops, STEM programs, soccer skills training, and career exploration events. All RAVE’s programs are free to the communities they serve.
According to Tacoma Defiance player Joe Hafferty, who grew up in Seattle and came through Sounders Academy, the collaboration with RAVE Foundation adds a deeper sense of purpose to the team.
“We actually had a chance to go out down in Tacoma and experience the opening of one of their mini fields [at Boze Elementary],” he said. “I thought it was a great atmosphere and a good event. I’m glad we can play a role in giving back to the community because it means so much to us. It means so much to this club. It’s just a little piece but it goes a long way.”
You can purchase tickets to Tacoma Defiance matches at Starfire Sports HERE.
For more information on RAVE Foundations 26 Fields by 2026 campaign and the programming involved in their charitable efforts, click HERE.