Humanitarian Social Innovations is proud to welcome Allentown United Football Club to our community of social entrepreneurs.
Avid soccer player Emmanuel Ntow-Mensah discovered a critical flaw in soccer culture: there are numerous opportunities for elementary through high school students to play, but once players graduate, their chances of staying involved in the game plummet.
While a small number of soccer players are recruited to play professionally, the majority of remaining players give up the sport because local clubs are expensive, and with only two in the area — Bethlehem Steele and Lehigh Valley United — tryouts are extremely competitive. The dearth of local teams combined with the costly Pay-to-Play system has formed an exclusionary culture that leaves many talented and passionate soccer players with no option other than to quit.
Struck with the unfairness of this situation — which he experienced firsthand — Ntow-Mensah decided to start his own soccer club: Allentown United Football Club (AUFC). AUFC is built upon the belief that playing soccer at an elite level should not be inconvenient, exclusive or expensive. Ntow-Mensah wanted to create a platform that allows local players to flourish and become leaders in their community.
“Many [players] who do not get a chance to play in college can’t afford the expensive academy fees, and simply stop playing or rely on finding pickup games to get their fill of soccer,” said Ntow-Mensah. “I want young players to have something to look forward to and something to work towards.”
About the Founder
Ntow-Mensah played soccer at the varsity level in high school and was chosen as captain of his team as a senior. He was recruited for soccer in college but stopped playing after he graduated — a decision that he counts as one of his biggest regrets.
Eager to stay involved in the game, Ntow-Mensah began volunteering as an assistant coach for his nephew’s soccer team. He enjoys teaching the players to develop skills and improve as athletes. Being involved with young, hopeful players again sparked a lightbulb moment for Ntow-Mensah, and AUFC was born.
“The community needs AUFC because it offers an alternative to the Pay-to-Play system that most U.S. clubs implement. Talented players from lower-income families will finally have a chance to showcase their talents on a national stage, allowing them to attract colleges to further their education or even attract professional clubs to perform at the next elite level,” Ntow-Mensah said.
Building the Club
One of the greatest challenges of creating AUFC, Ntow-Mensah said, has been to ensure that his club will remain a permanent fixture in the Lehigh Valley. While building a lasting legacy has its difficulties, Ntow-Mensah was surprised by the support of community members he has worked with along the way. “They also see a great need for this project and have been pitching ideas on how to improve certain aspects. It’s been a humbling experience building The People’s Club with the people themselves,” he said. “We are a community club established by the people, for the people. I want to make their goals and dreams a reality.”
“It would be a dream of mine to hear a young 7-13-year-old player say, ‘I want to play for AUFC one day.’ I am 100% certain it will drive change and make a difference in the way the community views soccer organizations.”
Humanitarian Social Innovations is pleased to sponsor and serve Allentown United Football Club in order to maximize its impact on the local community. You can support the club below.