NASHVILLE — The longstanding partnership between the Nashville Roadies, an independent non-profit supporters group of Nashville Soccer Club, and the Nashville-based charity Soccer For The Nations entered a new era on Thursday as the Roadies have now assumed all leadership and operations roles within the organization.
Soccer For The Nations, which was established in 2016, works to provide disadvantaged children of any cultural background with the opportunity to play organized soccer. As a part of the program, children are provided with coaching, equipment and gear to go along with small sack meals, healthy snacks and drinks.
“It is part our mission to make soccer more accessible, and that’s what this will do for kids in Nashville and the mid-state region,” explained Roadies president Newton Dominey. “Going from supporting this organization to running it lines up perfectly with what we’re about, and it lets Soccer For The Nations operate in a more effective way.”
In the past, the Roadies have helped lead teams and provide financially for the organization, including during this past Nashville SC season, when a percentage of all match day sales at the Roadies’ official pub partner were donated to the group. Earlier this year, the Roadies also worked to create a match-like atmosphere for the children with Soccer For The Nations by showing up with drums, flags and chants to cheer on the team.
“It’s a point of pride for us that we are using soccer to try and make Nashville a better place,” Dominey said. “This organization can provide a lot of the things that I believe are good about team sports, like character-building and confidence, and it means a lot that we can offer this to kids that may not be able to afford it otherwise. Soccer can bring communities together, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The new Soccer For The Nations organization will be directed by longtime Roadie Lexi Robinson and Valair Shabilla. In addition, Chrystie Howard, Grant Carroll, Alexa Regina and Anthony Melo will round out the Roadies serving in expanded roles with the organization, heading up such aspects as fundraising, recruiting and volunteering.
“This has been such a great organization, and I was excited that we had the opportunity to take over,” Shabilla said. “I was able to coach with them last year, and seeing first-hand the impact that it has had on the children has been amazing. I’m excited to help, but in a bigger role so that we can try to work with as many children as possible.”
An immigrant from Baghdad, Iraq, Shabilla looks forward to working within the refugee community of Nashville as well.
“When we moved here, I was 14, and the change of coming to a city like this is so tremendous and hard to describe,” Shabilla said. “Although it wasn’t directly with soccer, there were organizations that helped me out and people that would try to take an extra step to provide for me. I want to be able to do the same for some of these children. If I can find someone that maybe speaks the same languages that I speak or I can offer an opportunity for them to see someone that was also in their shoes once, it’ll mean even more.”
The new Soccer For The Nations, which will remain involved in Mid-State Youth Sports will launch for the spring season. For more information on the organization, please visit SoccerForTheNations.com.