National Tournaments & Scholarships
Both SAFE Foundation and SMIA have another important relationship and that’s with the Chicago Blast Soccer Club, also founded by Coach Aleks Mihailovic. The Blast is a U.S. Youth Soccer Association-sanctioned Club comprised of 30 teams that compete at soccer tournaments locally, regionally and nationally. To be chosen for the Blast, a player must be between 8 and 18 years old and playing at a USYSA level. Most players come from either SAFE Foundation or SMIA programs.
The benefit to the financially disadvantaged youth that the SAFE Foundation serves is that they are exposed to USYSA-style tournaments and actually play in them, rather than just kicking a ball around on a field just a few blocks from their homes.
In addition, should the older and more advanced players be fortunate enough, they have an advantage through playing for the Chicago Blast at national tournaments to be spotted by college soccer scouts, who could provide them with both academic and athletic opportunities that would not otherwise typically be available to them.
Also, by playing on a college team, if that’s an outcome, puts a player one step closer to professional opportunities as well.