FM Soccer Club’s scholarship program

As fall rolls around and a new school year begins, so does a new season for children’s recreational soccer. Between 500 and 600 kids sign up to play in the league every season, of all different skill levels. According to its website, the FM Soccer Club is “dedicated to skill development, teamwork, healthy competition, and active lifestyles,” giving participants more than just playtime. 

All these benefits show that participating in the league is a great opportunity. However, up until 2017, not all families were able to give their kids this experience due to financial barriers. 

The cost of signing up varies based on age and time of registration, but it typically costs either $50 or $60 per child, depending on their age. Parents also need to purchase equipment in order for their child to participate; cleats and shin guards are required to play, and most players use soccer socks as well. Altogether, this can easily cost over $100 per child. But children are constantly outgrowing their cleats, and purchasing new equipment year after year can be financially draining. 

The cost of equipment combined with the registration fee, especially when there are multiple children to pay for, is often too expensive for many families. 

That’s why the FM Soccer Club introduced its new “scholarship program.” It was established in 2017 as a need-based program to help families in FM. There is no minimum income requirement in order to be assisted by the program; it runs completely on the honor system. 

This program reduces costs for families in two ways. First, the program waives registration fees, meaning that it makes the cost of signing up completely free. But how can this be afforded? Since the club is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it is a nonprofit, it has many different streams of income, including money from sponsors, donations, and other registrants. This money is enough to cover the costs of renting fields, paying referees, purchasing equipment like goals and paint, doing background checks on coaches, and insurance. Even without money from the players in the scholarship program, the club is still able to cover its other expenses. 

Other registrants and families in the community can donate used items to the FM Soccer Club, which then works with Grace Abounds, part of the Baptist Church in Manlius, to get them distributed. Families can look for whatever they need, though it isn’t guaranteed. Whatever they are able to find is completely free. 

Another benefit of the program is that it’s completely anonymous. Requests for free registration come to the club through FM Community Outreach, formerly known as the FM Food Pantry, and also through the FM School District. Due to this anonymity, the soccer board doesn’t have an exact number of families that the program has assisted, but it’s estimated that the program helps a couple dozen families every season. Thanks to this, many children that wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in soccer have the incredible opportunity to do so.