How This Salvation Army Partnership is Building an Accomplished Soccer Program in Newark

Mar 31, 2022 | by Tom Wiedmann

NEWARK, NJ — When the Ironbound Soccer Club Super Eagles boys’ 16/17 team capped off its 2021 season with a national championship, the remarkable feat stood as a testament to how far the club’s partnership with the local Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club has come, providing Newark youths an opportunity to step onto the pitch.

Since 1938, the Salvation Army has worked in conjunction with Boys and Girls Club of America to provide youth development programming in Newark’s East Ward. As part of the organization's efforts to provide youth programming, a soccer club was established 30 years ago at the suggestion of parents in the East Ward, a predominant Lusophone community where soccer is interwoven into the fabric of the local culture.

Three decades later, the program has evolved into one of the most accomplished youth soccer clubs in the country while providing countless Newark youths access to the game.

“We’re under the umbrella of a great organization so that kids have an opportunity and get exposure that they necessarily couldn't have if they were playing for a regular club that didn’t have this affiliation,” Ironbound SC coach Nick Lavrador told TAPinto Newark.

Salvation Army officials understand the impact of their work in the community as well.

Nemin Jaya, the director of Administration in Newark for the Salvation Army, calls the Ironbound Soccer Club one of the “best kept secrets” in Newark, noting the organization boasts one of the largest inner city soccer programs in the country. To date, the program serves about 1,200 youth, with about 80 individual teams. In the past three decades, the Ironbound clubs have garnered a total of 13 national titles.

Coach Lavrador noted his team's success over the years has resounded with the East Ward community.

Going into the national championship tournament last year in Tampa Bay, the team faced opponents from Virginia, Florida, Michigan Georgia and Manhattan. Ironbound SC won all five games to secure the championship title.

When the team arrived back home, the community expressed its adoration for the accomplishment.

"The community is really in touch with how good the club does nationally," Lavrador said. "It meant the world to them that when the players got back, they received so much love and respect from everybody."

The program’s real accomplishment, however, shouldn’t just be measured by the amount of hardware the teams have brought home.

Jaya pointed to the program's expansion over the years to provide greater access to the game in Newark.

“Soccer in America is an expensive sport especially when it comes to travel and stuff of that nature,” he told TAPinto Newark. “A lot of kids, without a program like ours, would not have the opportunity to play.”

The subsidization of the program, Jaya said, allows the Salvation Army to provide more youths in Newark an opportunity to play. Officials reach out to financially burdened youths in various areas such as providing scholarships and financial assistance.

The organization also lends teams its facilities, located at 11 Providence St., during the winter so players can train and prepare indoors for the season.

“We try to meet the community and its needs where they’re at,” Jaya said. “Our Boys and Girls Club facility, which has been around for so long, is a staple. It’s part of the community. It’s hard to imagine the community without the Ironbound Boys and Girls Club.”

Full Story

Recent Stories

Related Content: NewarkNewark Ironbound

Get Involved

A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.