BOZEMAN — From A-Town to Bozeman, MLS Soccer has made its way to Montana, but not for the reason you might think.
“It’s been an amazing experience working with kids from a different community making sure that we’re here to facilitate some free, equitable fun youth soccer and help the game grow out in Montana,” Atlanta United FC camps and clinics manager Leigh Jakes said.
Earlier this week, Atlanta United FC, in partnership with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, held free soccer camps in both Bozeman and Livingston for youth of all ability levels ages 5 to 14.
"That’s going to be a lasting memory for these kids, so we do what we can to make sure they come away with this not just thinking they’ve become a better soccer player, but that more is possible and that they can do anything they put their mind to," Jakes added.
But you may be wondering, why Montana? Well, the answer is simple: Arthur M. Blank.
While the Atlanta Mogul is well-known in the sports world for owning both an NFL and MLS team in The Big A, he’s also a philanthropist with roots in Park County.
"It’s the world's game honestly, and it’s incredible to do our part to give more kids the opportunity to play the game not limited by financial barriers or maybe even just culturally," Jakes said.
However, holding free youth camps is just a small piece of what the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is all about.
With a commitment to investing in local Montana communities, just this year alone the foundation has granted more than $2 million dollars addressing issues such as disaster relief, community well-being, and youth development.
“When you have an amazing founder and foundations that are able to give you access to the game to kids from across the country," Jakes said. "We’re just so happy that the community has been so welcoming to us, and we’re excited to continue this partnership and growing the game.”