More about Chicago Fire Soccer Club
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club’s charitable arm, the Chicago Fire Foundation, created the P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program to enhance academic performance and development of key social and emotional learning (SEL) skills of elementary students through a sports-based curriculum. P.L.A.Y.S. not only teaches soccer, but also explicitly teaches key SEL traits and values such as emotional control, goal setting and attainment, cooperation, respect, communication, and teamwork. These traits are tied to academic success and used with sport training to improve physical well-being and academic capabilities of students.
The program combines soccer with academics, as many Chicago Public School students struggle with lower-than-average math and reading scores. In 2015, among Chicago Public Schools (CPS) fourth-graders, 30 percent were proficient in math compared to 40 percent nationally. Further, less than 70 percent of CPS students graduated from high school. By teaching key SEL values within the structure of an athletic activity, students learn and transfer these values from the athletic field to the classroom, improving their behavior and academic outcomes.