Coastal Outreach Soccer recently announced that it is one of four programs in Georgia chosen to participate in the first phase of an initiative to build futsal courts across the state.
COS will receive a matching grant of $67,500 from the GA 100 program to build a futsal playing facility at Howard Coffin Park.
“For us to be in that first group, to be awarded out of the four and to kick off this program, is very exciting for us,” said Shawn Williams, founder and executive director of COS, during a virtual announcement event. “It’s very exciting in the fact that the program that we put together is being recognized by others throughout the state and on a national level as being an impact within our community.”
COS is a nonprofit that focuses on soccer and academic mentoring programs for underserved Glynn County youth. It was formed in 2004 with the goal of bringing soccer opportunities to Brunswick and increasing the local high school graduation rate.
That mission has been consistent as COS grew and developed into the multifaceted program it is today.
The GA 100 campaign is led by the Atlanta United Foundation and aims to create up to 100 mini-pitches across Georgia in anticipation of the 2026 World Cup, which is set to be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Futsal is a form of indoor soccer played on a hard surface between two teams of five players each. The pitch planned for Coffin Park will be 84’ by 50’ and will be open air.
The $67,500 grant from Atlanta United Foundation is matched with $67,500 raised by Coastal Outreach Soccer.
The Atlanta United Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations that show promise for extending soccer programs to children and adults who would not otherwise get to participate.
Funds raised by COS came from a variety of contributors, including the Brunswick Housing Authority, Honeywell Corporation, the National Recreation Foundation, Darius Slay Jr. and others.
COS and three other organizations in Austell, Bainbridge and Canton have received grants totaling $292,500 through GA 100.
The Atlanta United Foundation has awarded $1.5 million to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to begin installation of the first mini-pitches across the state. With this funding, LISC identifies local, nonprofit and community-based agencies wishing to build or refurbish mini-pitch fields at schools, neighborhood parks and other recreation spaces in underserved Georgia neighborhoods.
The local organizations will receive financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of mini-pitch fields in their communities. The organizations will then oversee the construction, maintenance and programming of the fields.
COS plans for the project to be completed in February.
The facility addition fits into COS’s three focus areas, Williams said, which are physical fitness, community service and education.
The local futsal project will be a collaboration between Coastal Outreach Soccer and the city of Brunswick. COS participants, who are ages 4 to 18, will spend equal amounts of time training and playing games on Arco and Coffin Park grass fields and the futsal court.
“I think it just is going to create a great environment not only for our kids but for families to be able to come over and be able to enjoy the facility as well,” Williams said.
Futsal was developed in the 1930s in Uruguay as a way for professional soccer players to work on their skills in the offseason. The sport has in recent years seen a large increase in popularity, Williams said.
Speaking to the players during the virtual event, Williams urged them to recognize the significance of the announcement.
“There’s no other futsal court in Southeast Georgia,” he said. “But because of our community coming together and really looking at this and saying, ‘What else can we do? What else can we pour into our youth to help them develop, to create opportunities for you, to give you something that no one else in this area has?’”
Preparing the student-athletes for success is at the heart of this work, he said.
“We want to see you grow,” he said. “We want to see you reach the goals that you have in mind, that you want to have, and we want to support you in that effort. We want you to really believe in yourself.”
He encouraged them to take ownership of this new opportunity.
“We want you to take advantage of the opportunity not only for you to develop as soccer players and as human beings but also academically, and we want to be there to support you in those efforts,” Williams said.
Williams also thanked the many stakeholders who’ve helped COS reach this point, including its board of directors, staff members, parents, players, the city, local schools and donors.
“We don’t reach these milestones without everyone’s input and everyone’s commitment to the Coastal Outreach Soccer organization,” he said.