‘It’s become a family.’ Bridgeport United FC sets goals for future women leaders

A coach in Bridgeport is teaching girls about more than just soccer skills – they are learning lessons that will help them on their journey through life.

Mark Sudol

Mar 18, 2024, 4:36 PM

Updated 32 days ago

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A coach in Bridgeport is teaching girls about more than just soccer skills – they are learning lessons that will help them on their journey through life.
Wilton native Dan Starbuck Pelletier played college soccer at a Division II school in Alabama. His team went all the way to the Final Four. But as he got older, he had another goal in mind.
"In a place like Bridgeport, I've noticed there's not as much access to women’s, girls sports as other towns," said Pelletier.
Pelletier started coaching a small group of girls in his Bridgeport United Football Club. Three years ago, thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, he has quadrupled the size of his roster.
"Using that money, we expanded from 15 girls to 70 girls, and I added a coaching staff of three coaches," said Pelletier
Players range from 7-14 years old. They've already built lasting friendships.
"It's become a family…and in a lot cases…it's the only athletic activity they do,” he said. “…It's huge for them."
Pelletier has used his love of soccer to give these Bridgeport girls a chance they ordinarily might not have had.
"It keeps them on the right track. Then they might go to college, they might go off and have their career and maybe it was soccer that kept them on the right track to get there," said Pelletier.
Funding for the Bridgeport United Football Club through the American Rescue Plan Act is running out.
"On June 1, if we don't find other funding, we'll most likely have to go back to having only 15 girls on one team," said Pelletier.
Pelletier is determined to find a way. He says he's come too far not to.
"About what I've achieved in my life. This is right up there at the top," said Pelletier.
Pelletier says he's hoping to find other grants or donors to keep the program going.


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