Kensington Soccer Club has been committed to gender equality since day one. We believe in welcoming children of all gender expressions and identities and we also work hard to ensure that girls and women have equal opportunity at all levels of KSC. When we first put out calls for soccer sign-ups for our evening and weekend in-house programs, we found that registration of boys far outnumbered girls. But when we go into schools and teach soccer in physical education class or when we run soccer clinics in existing summer camps and after-school programs, there are just as many enthusiastic girl participants who would love to play even more. We strongly encourage parents to support their daughters' participation in sports and take full advantage of all opportunities.
KSC works hard to ensure equal opportunity. Some examples of what this means:
- Taking all players to see women's college and professional soccer games. In our early years, we took annual trips to see the Philadelphia Independence professional team and arranged for one of their players to visit our soccer family celebration. Now, we take our players to see women's college soccer at schools including La Salle University, Rosemont College, and University of Pennsylvania.
- In Spring 2012 when we launched our Teen Leadership Initiative, we took great pains to make sure girls knew we wanted them to be apply to be coaches. We also reached out to Philadelphia Public School girls soccer teams citywide to get their coaches to help get more girls involved. We continue to encourage our girls and young women to take leadership roles as coaches and administrators.
- In late fall of 2012 when we decided to launch our first travel teams for the indoor 2012-2013 season, we had many boys sign up, but not enough girls to make girls teams. The girls who did sign up mostly expressed that they would rather have their own teams than join the boys teams. At the same time, we reached out to the Starfinder Foundation and discovered that their teen Senior Leaders program didn't have enough girls to form a girls cohort. So our girls program effort headed by Kensington teachers Bridget Mason and Jim Hardy did the following:
- Launched a major recruiting effort in the four Kensington High Schools, visiting classroom after classroom to get girls to sign up for soccer.
- In order to get more training and opportunities for our KSC girls and to help Starfinder have enough girls to launch a teen girls program, Bridget and Jim tried to get our KSC girls to sign up for Starfinder and attend their program in Manayunk twice a week. However, we found that our players and their parents were not comfortable doing the long Septa trip alone and arriving home late (leaving Kensington at 3:30, arriving at Starfinder at 4:30, leaving Starfinder at 6:30, and arriving home after 8pm). So Bridget and Jim accompanied our girls to and from Starfinder on Septa and volunteered as coaches at Starfinder to make sure our KSC girls felt comfortable since many were brand new to soccer.
- Formed both u16 and u19 girls teams with practices on Saturdays and games on Sundays (u16) and Tuesday evenings (u19), providing tokens and/or rides for players to get to and from practices and games.
- We successfully campaigned to get the School District of Philadelphia to fund the creation of a girls competitive team at Kensington High School. We used community letters and a video petition from players to make our case. And new KHS boys coach and KSC President Jim Hardy actively recruited girls to play for the boys school team in order to provide them equal opportunity and convince the school district that their was adequate interest to have a girls team.
- In response to our younger girls requesting their own program rather than having to play with boys, we launched robust spring and fall in-house middle school girls programs.
- When Starfinder had a seperate middle school girls program, we partnered to get a group of KSC girls to enroll and participate over the winter. KSC did the recruiting and registration and coordinating with the girls' schools. Starfinder ran the program and provided transportation in their van. KSC also sent one of our young adult coaches to help coach the girls at Starfinder.
- After Starfinder ceased operating middle school girls programs, we launched our own in-house winter middle school girls program.
- Sponsored and partnered with Starfinder Girls program to put two u19 teams in the Hulmeville Soccer Club tournament.
- Created a girls u19 team for the suburban Rock League.
- Helped several of our girls to connect with college soccer opportunities and then took our younger kids to see them play there.