Our Founder

Our Founder

The SAFE Foundation was founded in 1987 by celebrated soccer professional Aleks Mihailovic, who has enjoyed a distinguished career playing and coaching soccer for more than 40 years.

Mihailovic began playing soccer as a young boy, and continued to excel at the sport throughout adolescence. While in college, he had the great honor of being named Most Valuable Player for four consecutive years while playing on Jacksonville University’s team, and was named to the All State Florida Collegiate Soccer Team for three years.

Afterward, he made the natural transition to playing professional soccer in the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the Washington Diplomats and then the Jacksonville Tea Men. He received several honors during his years as a professional soccer player, including Most Valuable Player of the Northern Indiana Soccer League as well as a spot on Chicago’s All-Star Team Men’s Open Division.

Despite his successes as a player, Mihailovic realized that his true talents lied in being a coach, and that he possessed a special gift and ability to train and inspire others with great success. During his four- year tenure as head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Jacksonville University, he helped them win four conference championships and achieve a ranking of one of the best programs in the country.

Over his 30-year career as a coach, Mihailovic has won many awards and held many prestigious positions including being named to the Illinois State Soccer Association Hall of Fame and Jacksonville University’s Player of the Decade in 1999. In addition, he was the U.S. Adult Soccer Association’s National Director of Coaching and current serves as the U.S. Soccer Federation’s National Team Scout.

Yet none of Aleks’ many accomplishments are quite as important to him as his founding of Soccer Made in America (SMIA) and the SAFE Foundation. Both organizations have allowed him the great honor and privilege to pass on his wealth of knowledge to children across the nation, helping to build soccer’s next generation of superstars.

His development of the SAFE Foundation has brought to life Aleks’ dream of bringing soccer into the lives of all kids, regardless of economic background, gender, race or ethnicity.