The USMNT star hopes to inspire the next generation through the Puma x Christian Pulisic Legacy Program.
Christian Pulisic had a keen interest in soccer growing up, but a year living in England turned it into an obsession.
Pulisic caught the soccer bug in Tackley, England, eight miles north of Oxford, while his mother, Kelley, was working abroad on a teaching exchange after receiving a Fulbright scholarship. Christian, who was about to turn 7 years old, played for local club Brackley Town, but it was the pickup games after school that really had an effect on him, even all these years later.
“One of the best memories I had was the year I lived in England,” Pulisic tells Boardroom. “Outside of our little school, there was this court — it was just concrete — and there were soccer goals set up. I was just out there with a bunch of those guys for hours after school and I thought that was one of the most amazing things. I’d just be out there forever until literally it got dark and I was forced to come home.”
After returning to the US, the soccer-obsessed Pulisic was unable to recreate the same camaraderie and enjoyment he felt in England. Groups of pre-pubescent boys weren’t playing pickup soccer in the parks or schools, so Pulisic played in the backyard with his father, Mark.
“If there was a Clint Dempsey Stomping Ground around my house, I would have been there every day just because I love what he’s about,” Pulisic said. “He was one of my inspirations. Obviously a lot of the guys on the (US) national team and across Europe, I looked up to, for sure. I just didn’t have access to so many local fields where I could go and play and there would be other guys there wanting to play. It was always other sports and other things going on.”
In an effort to not only leave his lasting legacy on American soccer, while providing opportunities for the next generation to become as obsessed with the game that got him at a young age, the USMNT winger is teaming up with Puma to create the Puma x Christian Pulisic Legacy Program, a multi-faceted, long-term platform that provides underserved youth access to soccer through product donations, camps, clinics, safe access to fields, and more.
The Puma partnership will establish a series of Christian Pulisic Stomping Grounds, acting as free safe spaces for youth to play the game. The first, opening Wednesday, is at a SOCTAINER facility in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, with additional facilities opening between now and the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America. Pulisic and Puma also pledged to donate 60,000 soccer balls not only to those participating in Stomping Grounds programming but to other targeted in-need communities throughout the country.
“When I first started having talks with Puma and where I wanted to go with my brand and what I wanted to do, it was really in line with what they wanted, which was just growing the sport in America especially,” Pulisic said. “They’ve helped me so much whether it’s with the CP Collections or now building these fields.
“Being able to inspire the next generation is everything. For me, it’s part of why I do what I do. It’s what pushes me every day — the kids that look up to me and just want to have that name where they say, ‘You know what? If he can do it, I can do it.’ I think a lot of people need that in their lives. I needed that when I grew up. I truly feel blessed every day that I get to do this as a job and play this game, and doing this for a living almost feels unfair at times. I just feel lucky.”
While the NFL and NBA reign supreme in the US, soccer is steadily growing thanks to the success of Pulisic and fellow Americans plying their trade at some of the top club teams in the world, the USWNT winning four World Cup titles, the growing investment and interest domestically in the MLS, USL, and NWSL, and the accessibility of European leagues on various streaming services and OTT platforms.
Soccer is the third-most-popular sport for Gen Z, behind football and basketball, according to a Two Circles study, while soccer is the No. 1 sport in participation and No. 2 in fandom for Generation Alpha (born after 2013), according to a Morning Consult survey. An estimated 17.8 million Americans played soccer in 2020, compared to 2.3 million who played ice hockey, per the Sport and Fitness Association. US Youth Soccer registers nearly 3 million players annually.
With the 2023 Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia/New Zealand as well as the 2024 Copa América and 2026 FIFA World Cup coming to the continent — not to mention Lionel Messi’s imminent arrival in MLS — soccer is skyrocketing in the States.
“I’ve heard about what the last World Cup in the US did for the country and the buzz that was around the game and how much it grew the game at that time, and I think we’re going to see it even more so in ’26,” Pulisic said. “The US definitely knows how to put on a good tournament, that’s for sure. We know how to put on a good show. Obviously, all the best players coming from all around the world playing in a World Cup in the US, Mexico, and Canada is only going to grow this sport and grow the leagues, MLS especially.
“I think a lot of big things are coming for this sport in America.”
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