This piece is part of our 21 Local Innovators To Watch roundup in the August 2022 print issue of District Fray. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
COO of Open Goal Project. The Open Goal Project creates opportunities for young soccer players from low-income families and underserved communities to access high-level soccer.
District Fray: Why you do what you do
Simon Landau: Access and equity in the youth soccer space is incredibly important to me. After seeing the huge gap that existed in our community — and across the country — created by pay-to-play youth soccer, it was clear something needed to be done to give kids who couldn’t afford to play in competitive settings, specifically Black and brown kids, the chances they deserved. I had the opportunity to play competitive soccer throughout my youth, and that gap and inequity created by the pay-to-play system is what drives me every day.
How you are helping
We created Open Goal Project, a nonprofit organization and Open Goal Project’s core program, DCFC, a 100% free-to-play travel soccer club that removes all of the barriers that have previously kept the kids we serve from competing and reaching their full potential as student athletes.
Who else is helping
I co-founded the organization with Amir Lowery, our executive director. We have a team of incredible, passionate coaches who have grown up in and served the community for years. It costs a lot of money to achieve what we’re trying to achieve, so we have a number of incredibly supportive organizations and donors who help us execute our mission.
Where you escape in D.C.
Pickup soccer games, in a variety of locations. It’s less about the competition and more about the social side for me. Over the years I’ve made so many friends of all ages, races, nationalities, etc. in so many different games. Those games are the place I go to just turn off a bit, get a good run in, and connect with people.
Where you go to escape D.C.
Just a short drive north to Maryland. My parents live there, so anytime we can escape the city for a day or two and see the family is a great chance to relax.
I’m a big fan of “How I Built This” from NPR. Building Open Goal Project from scratch with Lowery, like building any business, has presented challenges and obstacles along the way. “How I Built This” presents a great chance to hear from incredible business minds and reflect on how to effectively build something. I love hearing stories of entrepreneurial journeys.
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