The Moscow Youth Soccer League

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Does an idea of 600 children gathered together on one day seem rather terrifying to you? Does it create images of total panic and ultimate disobedience? That may be the case, but Moscow Youth Soccer League found a way to manage this and organized the happiest League of the year. It is the place where children from all over the world come to play soccer and communicate with each other in the language of sports!

MYSL started 15 years ago, as an initiative of a few expatriate families who wanted to combine soccer matches with socialization and entertainment. The result was the establishment of a non-commercial soccer League. At that time, there were just a couple of teams participating and the whole event was organized and sponsored by the parents of those participants.

MYSL has been growing ever since. The reason for its success is said to be its distinctiveness. “MYSL remains unique because of its atmosphere, organization, spirit of volunteers and truly international feel” – says Derk Sauer, one of the first participants of the League who became of big value to the progress of the project. “Kids look forward to our event every year. In a place where youth sports are so hard to find, MYSL plays a very important role!”

MYSL is held once a year in the weekends of September and October, in the centre of Moscow. One League exists of 10 playing days, including the finals and its ceremony. The main concept is derived from fun and happiness, which is joined by an approximate number of 1,200 people, each playing day.

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There are several motives for people to participate in the League. First of all: the joy of the children. Moscow Youth Soccer League is all about kids’ happiness without any competitive pressure. All kids between 3 and 15 years old are welcome to join in, despite their level of football skills. Registrants are split into teams and receive a full Nike football kit with the team logos on it. “There are not that many places where expat kids from all the international schools of Moscow can meet and do something together! MYSL is probably the only event that unites all of us!” – Says one of the parents.

Moscow Youth Soccer League is the highlight of the year. Not only for children, but for parents as well. While the kids are competing at the fields or having fun at the play spaces, their parents may have a drink with one another and potentially establish new connections. MYSL is the place where the business elite of Moscow meets and it’s truly the best way to meet new friends or business partners.

Selection_490MYSL is a mixture of nationalities and cultures. Kids from all over the world play happily together. Seventy-seven percent of the participants are expatriate, which causes English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Japanese and many other languages to be spoken at the fields. “To see the emotions and positivism of all these young kids is a great source of energy to us as organizers” – Says Andrei Joosten, head of the League.

The League offers even more than football matches. At the fields, children are able to stimulate their entrepreneurial skills, create sales experience, feel a sense of responsibility and receive the joy of giving by selling second hand shoes, bracelets, cookies, waffles, trains and more. The kids are absolutely excited about their sales.

MYSL values its non-commercial aspects and enables charities to raise money at the fields. The charities are selected on forehand and they all have a connection with the concept of the League. “We are working with such charities as MPC Social Services, cats and dogs shelters and are currently looking for organizations that raise money for children with Down syndrome. We are not only allowing fund raising at the fields, but we’re also donating our possible profits. It is important that such a project not only brings fun and pleasure to its participants, but is also supporting anti-racism, children’s hunger assistant programs and such.” – Ksenia Mershina, fundraiser of the League.

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However, all of the services mentioned above cannot be realized without external help. ‘’Sponsors are very important as they are the ones financing the League, enabling us to create those happy moments. All of our sponsors are of high value and they are truly the ones adding value and joy to the spare times of the kids.’’ – adds Ksenia. “It’s a privilege to invite sponsors to the fields and to give them the opportunity to organize special activities for our players”.

PepsiCo, DeGolyer & MacNaughton, Beverly Hills Diner, Volvo and Singapore Airlines are among annual sponsors of the League. There are always new partners who want to get involved with family sports activities of expatriate communities. “Some of them are very active! For example, Kuehne + Nagel (logistics company) organises something amazing every weekend (sweet cotton, bouncy castles, clowns, games). In general our sponsors are very eager to provide presents for the kids!” – Says the representative of the MYSL organization committee.

MYSL is also trying some new competition formats. For spring 2015, the MYSL organizers are planning to start the Moscow Youth Champions League. This will be a big soccer tournament between international schools’ teams and independent teams. “It would be great to combine multiple youth Leagues, adding all kinds of sports, in a way that every one of them is about the fun and happiness of the children” – Finishes the head of the League. To register for upcoming soccer seasons please, go to www.moscow-soccer.ru

Facts about MYSL:

Ages: 3 to 15 y.o.

Location: Stadium of Young Pioneers, Leningradsky prospect, 31, blg. 41.

Dates: weekends of September-October/May

Time: 09:00 – 19:00 depending on the age division

Registration fee: 6000 roubles (*uniforms included)

Kids of all the levels of soccer experience are welcome!