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Soccer in the Streets finds new executive director

One of the five Station Soccer fields. (Photo from Soccer in the Streets.)

Soccer in the Streets, which has found much success in recent years from its popular program Station Soccer, has named Elijah Miranda as its new executive director. The move comes after previous director Phil Hill stepped away from the position.

Miranda has a background in public health and has previous nonprofit experience in New York. He joins a team eager to build off of momentum, and that recently celebrated the opening of its newest soccer station at Lindbergh Station.

More than a beautiful game

Elijah Miranda, new executive director of Soccer in the Streets. (Photo from Soccer in the Streets.)

Miranda is German-born of Colombian parents but hails from Columbus, Ga. From an early age, Miranda says, soccer was a fundamental part of his childhood. 

“The game was an escape for me… I was fortunate enough to have coaches that wanted to see me succeed, teammates who have become lifelong friends, and the opportunity to coach myself — allowing me to witness the joy on the faces of children as they discover new gifts and talents, just as I did,” said Miranda in a press release.

Miranda described his feelings of excitement to start his new position this week.

“When I woke up [Sunday morning] I was thinking ‘I hope I get a good night’s rest. I wonder if it’s going to feel like Christmas Eve or the first day of school’. I was talking to my wife like — what am I even going to wear?’” Miranda joked. “It’s one of those feelings where I can’t wait to get my hands in there and dive right in.”

Miranda feels his public health background will be especially applicable to his new role.

“Public health to me is about access; everyone should have equal access, whether that’s flu shots, whether that’s soccer — it doesn’t matter,” Miranda said.“I love that Soccer in the Streets is helping increase access for children in Atlanta.” 

Soccer in the Streets

Soccer in the Streets is homegrown in Georgia; the organization was started in 1989 by Carolyn McKenzie who wanted to give underprivileged youth an opportunity to play.

Graphic of current and future Station Soccer fields. (Photo from Soccer in the Streets.)

One of the aspects that drew him to the role, Miranda says, is the focus on youth development both on the field and off, with programs like financial literacy and conflict resolution. 

“These are great opportunities to give these kids opportunities, connections… and give these kids some really important life skills at an early age,” Miranda said.

One of its most successful programs in recent years, Station Soccer, was conceived in 2013 when Sanjay Patel, Director of Strategic Projects for Soccer in the Streets, saw an opportunity for unused land around MARTA stations. Since then, the League of Stations has expanded to five MARTA stations and received widespread praise. 

Looking ahead

Soccer in the Streets is hoping to have 10 operating locations around MARTA stations before the 2026 World cup, which will be partially played in Atlanta. 

Miranda says he’s optimistic that the organization can achieve this goal in the next few years, and he hopes the momentum coming off the World Cup will help move it forward.

“To just see that momentum, one of our objectives is to ride that wave, carry that momentum, and move it forward as we move towards 2026,” Miranda said.

He pointed towards the support Atlanta United has received and feels Atlanta is a soccer-city in its own right. He hopes to add to the culture of soccer in the city and continue to help youth.

“I’m so honored that I get to be a part of this organization, which is this convergence of personal and professional passions,” Miranda said. “This beautiful game is something that I’m so excited to be a part of and I’m excited to connect and learn more about Atlanta, more about this city as I make it my home.”

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