The team at AM Global is comprised of caring, genuine individuals who, in addition to their work at our firm, use their talents and interests to make outstanding contributions to their communities. To honor their contributions, we will occasionally share stories of the volunteer work they are involved with, starting with AM Global Founder and CIO Andrew Mehalko, who is using his passion – soccer – to reach kids in disadvantaged communities.
It is no secret that today’s youth face significant social pressure. As children grow into adolescence, sports programs can often provide a much-needed distraction from drug usage or violence, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, where children are often left unsupervised for several hours after school ends. Mehalko grew up in one of these neighborhoods and he credits youth soccer as a leading force in getting him to where he is today.
The challenge is that even though sports programs are beneficial outlets for kids, those from lower-income families often cannot afford the club and travel fees associated with playing club soccer. This causes them to stop playing at an age when universities could scout them to play at the college level.
Mehalko’s desire to help children develop and thrive has lured him back in and he is now a local coach for recreational and travel soccer. Experiencing the cost for travel soccer programs, an important component of the development system for US Soccer, he and two other partners decided to start West Palm Beach Football Club, a non-profit club that is open to everyone and focused on identifying youth that are unable to afford travel program expenses.
In late June, the Club hosted its first local tryout, and with very little marketing, eighty children showed up. Mehalko has set a goal to raise $100k by December of 2017. The money raised will help cover the operating costs, insurance, supplies and gear, league and registration fees, facilities, referee expenses, uniforms, and coaches’ compensation. The money is intended to give the Club sustainability for a couple of years and to develop a strong culture with a talented coaching staff, and offer access and financial support for as many children as possible.
“Many kids that have passion for the game and talent never get the opportunity to develop in the sport and we hope to change this,” stated Mehalko. He, alongside other dedicated volunteers, are donating their time to keep out of pocket expenses significantly lower than the typical travel club.
To learn more about Mehalko’s involvement with the West Palm Beach Soccer Club, see his recent interview in the Palm Beach Post