The SWAG Philadelphia

The SWAG is a philanthropically funded, no cost soccer training program focused on opportunities for young athletes ages from preschool age up through age 8 from Philadelphia’s African-American and immigrant communities, principally North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and Southwest Philadelphia, as well as Chester.

Launched as a pilot in 2018, and expanded to a large scale program in 2021, The SWAG player pool is comprised of over 2000 young athletes from Philadelphia, who are offered no cost soccer coaching and training year-round with professional coaches.

Over 95% of the SWAG players are of African descent or from immigrant families.

Child playing soccer
Child playing soccer

The SWAG has been endorsed by the nationally-esteemed Philadelphia Union Academy program in Major League Soccer, which starts at U9 (roughly 3rd grade) and runs through high school ages, considered to be the number one youth soccer program in the United States.

The SWAG’s focus is on providing Philadelphia’s young athletes with accelerated technical development and professional coaching in a fun setting.

Read About The SWAG In The News

Coaching

The SWAG’s coaching pool is comprised of former professional and collegiate soccer players who work with the top youth soccer programs in the region, including the Philadelphia Union Academy and other leading programs.

In addition to professional level coaching, The SWAG coaches serve as mentors, counseling players and their families as they as they evaluate future athletic and educational opportunities.

Get to Know The SWAG Staff Below

Child playing soccer

Coaching Leadership

Ryan Griffith

SWAG Select Coach & SWAG Impact Director

Ryan is the Co-Director of Coaching & SWAG Impact Director with The SWAG, overseeing the innovative SWAG Impact educational program with Philadelphia area schools, as well as the Founder and Creative Director of R&R Soccer Academy. Ryan played collegiate soccer at Delaware County Community College and served as the head soccer coach from 2004-2020. In other capacities Ryan has been a coach for FC Delco at the Zone 1 level with various age groups. In 2019, he was awarded Coach of the Year honors by FC Delco. Ryan is a USSF C-licensed coach.

Dom Landry

Director of Operations & Scheduling and Coach

Dom is the Director of Operations & Scheduling and Coach with The SWAG  as well as the co-founder, head coach, manager, and a board member of the AC Fairhill soccer club in North Philadelphia. Dom played collegiate soccer for NCAA DI St. Joseph’s University (2004-2006) as a walk on, after picking up the game only a few years earlier at age 17. He later graduated from St. Joseph’s Haub School of Business (2008) with a degree in Business Management. In a coaching capacity, Dom served as a volunteer coach for the Anderson Monarch’s youth girl’s program in South Philadelphia before co-founding AC Fairhill in North Philadelphia, with the aim of giving back to his neighborhood and providing young players with experiences that can change their futures. Dom is also a co-founder of Common Ground Management, a Philadelphia-based firm which consults to small businesses throughout the U.S., assisting its clients with business entity formations, trademark filings and corporate identity initiatives.

Coaching

Bliss Harris

Bliss is a former D1 player from St. Joseph’s University where he was an all-conference awardee and two-time team captain. Bliss graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Family Business Entrepreneurship. Bliss has worked extensively with youth soccer players while coaching for Penn Fusion Academy, the Manchester City Academy, New York Red Bulls Youth Program and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program. He recently was the Technical Development Manager at Select Soccer Center and now provides individual, group, and team training through his business, GaloFC. Bliss is a USSF C-licensed coach.

Daniel Bloyou

Daniel is a coach at The SWAG. Originally from Ghana, he moved to Northeast Philadelphia in 2010. He joined the Philadelphia Union academy in 2013 and attended YSC Academy, graduating in 2018. Daniel played NCAA Division I soccer at Penn State, where he achieved notable success, including being part of the 2021 Big Ten Regular Season and Tournament Championship Team. He received various accolades, such as Third Team All-American, First Team All-Big Ten, First Team All-North Region, and selection for the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Daniel was drafted by Atlanta in the MLS 2022 Super Draft and later played for Ljungskile SK in Sweden.

Freddy Gil

Freddy is a coach with The SWAG. Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Freddy would eventually come to Pennsylvania to play soccer with the Philadelphia Union Academy and attend YSC Academy. He graduated in 2016 and went on to play NCAA DI soccer for University of South Florida, where he was a 4 year starter for the Bulls. Freddy graduated USF in 2020 prior to accepting his first coaching position with The SWAG.

Idrissa Kone

Idrissa “Baba” Kone is a coach with The SWAG and an assistant coach and scout with the Philadelphia Union Academy in the MLS. Baba has a wealth of experience working in African soccer on a national and professional level. Originally from the nation of Mali, he was a member of the country’s 1999 U17 African Cup team, which finished in third place. Following stints playing professionally in Africa and Italy, Baba was invited to play as a trialist with the Chicago Fire of the MLS in 2009. In 2011, he joined the Philadelphia Lone Star in USL League Two as an assistant coach and eventually rose to coach the U23 program. In 2014 he joined the Philadelphia Union Academy as a scout, and in 2016 as a Junior Academy coach. Baba is a USSF C-licensed coach.

Jordan Griffith

Jordan is a coach with The SWAG as well as a coach with Radnor Soccer Club. He played collegiate soccer at Villanova University 2007-2011 where he appeared in over 70 matches for the Wildcats. Prior to Villanova, Jordan played his high school soccer at The Haverford School where he was a 4 year starter, Inter-Ac Champion and EPYSA ODP  player. He played his club soccer at Lower Merion Soccer Club and FC Delco. He would later go on to coach the U9 and U10 age groups at FC Delco (then known as Continental FC) before joining Radnor and The SWAG.

Manolo Sanchez

Manolo is a coach with The SWAG  as well as the head coach of the Girls Varsity Soccer Program at Germantown Friends School. He played collegiate soccer at ACC-powerhouse Clemson University, where he earned All-ACC honors and would go on to be selected in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the New York Red Bulls. Manolo would spend the next four years playing professionally across the United States as well as for the Puerto Rican National Team before retiring with injury in 2018. He also played his high school soccer at Germantown Friends and holds the all-time goals and assists record, receiving All-League and All-State honors.

Mykola Lyakhovolskyy

Mykola is a coach with The SWAG as well as the a Head Coach with the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy program. Mykola is of Ukrainian descent, born in Philadelphia, he attended Northeast High School where he was a 4 year varsity soccer player and Public League Champion. He would go on to play college soccer at Penn State Abington, graduating in 2017 with an NEAC championship title. Following college, he would play professionally for clubs Karpaty Lviv (2nd team), FC Inhulets Petrove (on-loan), and the Dynamo Kiev (U19). As a coach, he has previously worked as an Assistant with Penn State Abington (2018-2020), Assistant Varsity Coach at Archbishop John Carroll High School (2019), Head Coach for the U9 and U11 groups with FC Bucks (2021-2022), and as a member of the Coach Across America Foundation (2014-2016).

Samuel Cole

Sam Cole is a coach with The SWAG, as well as the Head Coach for the girls’ program at Cristo Rey Philadelphia. Sam played his high school soccer at Abraham Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia, where he was selected as a first team all Public League player and team MVP. He played his Club soccer for PSC Coppa, and would go on to attend Neumann University. Prior to The SWAG Sam also coached with Salone FC of the UPSL. Sam is a USSF D-licensed coach.

Scott Spangler

Scott Spangler is currently a Director with The SWAG and a member of the Coaching Advisory Council. Scott has previously coached at highly-selective club-level programs, including the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy, EPYSA’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), 1776 United FC, Villanova Soccer Academy, and FC Delco. He currently serves as the Assistant Coach for the professional club Jacksonville Armada FC, and also serves as the Youth Director with oversight of the U9-U12 age brackets for the club. Youth teams coached by Scott have won multiple regional, national, and international events in soccer and futsal, among which include the international Iber Cup Championship events in Portugal and Texas, the US National Futsal Championships, and multiple 3v3 National Championships. Scott played college soccer at Virginia Tech where he led the team to the NCAA Semi-Finals as team Captain. As a high school player at Strath Haven High School, Scott was an All-American, All-State, and All-County player, and the leading goal scorer in the history of the school. Additionally, Scott played for the EPYSA State and Region 1 ODP teams. Professionally, Scott played at VfB Stuttgart in Germany. Scott is also a UEFA B and USSF B-licensed coach and owns Future Captain Sports, a soccer coaching services business focused upon youth development.

Sten Hulleberg

Sten is Technical Director & Co-Director of Coaching with The SWAG, and is also an assistant coach serving as a Philadelphia Union Junior Academy intern. Sten played his high school soccer at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, where he was also a downhill ski racer competing at the national level, and went on to study at the University of Michigan and New York University. Prior to The SWAG, Sten served as the Head U11 Boys Coach for Lightning Soccer Club in New Hampshire, as well as the Assistant U16 Girls Coach. In addition, Sten served as the Head Coach for various U8 and U9 groups with Soccer Stars United in New York. Sten is a US Soccer Grassroots licensed coach.

Administration

Darra Griffin

Relationship Ambassador & Administrator

Darra Griffin is The SWAG’s Community Ambassador and Administrator, managing relationships with families for The SWAG, helping those new to soccer to become familiar with The SWAG’s training program and the curriculum, working closely with families on SWAG scheduling and logistics throughout the Philadelphia area. Darra was born in Barbados and emigrated to the United States in 1984, attending Northeast High School in Philadelphia, where she was a student-athlete involved with track and field, graduating in 1993. Darra attended Pierce Junior College and graduated with a liberal arts degree. She was a member of the Black Student Union and actively involved in several community programs and activities. Darra was employee of Prudential Insurance for over 22 years in the customer service/data entry division. Darra has three children (two daughters and a son) and her son Jordan plays for the Philadelphia Union Academy. Jordan has competed in soccer not only domestically, but also internationally in Portugal, Spain, Scotland and Brazil, playing an important role on youth teams which have won national and international championship titles. Darra is an active member of church where she has honed her administrative, organizational and community outreach skills.

Ryan Richter

Director, Coaching Advisory Council

Ryan Richter is The SWAG’s Coaching Advisory Council Director and the Assistant Coach of the Philadelphia Union’s First Team. He was formerly Head Coach of the Philadelphia Union Academy’s U15 age group and provides oversight of The SWAG’s pool of coaching resources as SWAG Advisory Council Director. Prior to his Head Coaching role with the Union U15s, Ryan served as the Director of the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy program covering age groups up through U11, and also as a Union Academy coach with the U12s and U17s. Ryan spent seven years playing professionally after being drafted 5th overall in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Union, later going on to play for Toronto FC (MLS), New York Cosmos (NASL), and other highly respected professional clubs in North America, earning honors as an All-Decade Best XI player in NASL. Prior to his professional career, Ryan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he captained the Men’s Varsity Soccer team, receiving numerous individual accolades, such as the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year (2010), Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete of the Year (2010), Atlantic 10 Sportsman of the Year (2010), 1st Team Scholar All-American (2010), 2 Time Philadelphia Player of the Year (2009 and 2010) and 2 Time Regional All American (2009 and 2010). Ryan attended William Tennent High School in Suburban Philadelphia. He played youth soccer for FC Delco and Phoenix Soccer Club, and was an EPYSA ODP player. Ryan is a USSF A-licensed coach.

Nick Bibbs

Nick is the U13 & U14 Head Coach with Sporting Athletic of MLS Next. Formerly Program Development Director & Co-Director of Coaching with The SWAG, Nick oversaw the SWAG Select program, and worked with youth club programs throughout the region, identifying and developing talented young SWAG players for participation in the Philadelphia Union’s Junior Academy program which starts at Under-9. Before joining The SWAG, Nick served as Head Coach and Youth Academy Director for Syracuse FC. Nick played collegiate soccer as a defender at NCAA DI Syracuse University (2010-2013) where he started 42 out of the 43 matches for the Orange. In 2012 he led an Orange defense that recorded 12 shutouts, tied for the third-most in the nation. He played an integral part of the second Syracuse team to make an NCAA tournament appearance, the first to make a Sweet 16 appearance.  Nick graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Child & Family Studies. Following his college career, Nick played 4 years professionally in the Swedish 3rd tier and USL Championship with Saint Louis FC and Bethlehem Steel (now named Philadelphia Union II). As a high school player at Lower Merion High School, and played club with West Philly Hurricanes (now named West Philly Soccer Academy), PalumboLMSC and Spirit/Delco (now named FC Delco). He was selected as a Region I ODP player and to the U18 National Pool.  Nick has coached for several years at both the youth and collegiate levels and holds an Advanced Youth Technical Training Diploma. Nick is a USSF C-licensed coach.

Scott Spangler

Scott Spangler is currently a Director with The SWAG and a member of the Coaching Advisory Council. Scott has previously coached at highly-selective club-level programs, including the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy, EPYSA’s Olympic Development Program (ODP), 1776 United FC, Villanova Soccer Academy, and FC Delco. He currently serves as the Assistant Coach for the professional club Jacksonville Armada FC, and also serves as the Youth Director with oversight of the U9-U12 age brackets for the club. Youth teams coached by Scott have won multiple regional, national, and international events in soccer and futsal, among which include the international Iber Cup Championship events in Portugal and Texas, the US National Futsal Championships, and multiple 3v3 National Championships. Scott played college soccer at Virginia Tech where he led the team to the NCAA Semi-Finals as team Captain. As a high school player at Strath Haven High School, Scott was an All-American, All-State, and All-County player, and the leading goal scorer in the history of the school. Additionally, Scott played for the EPYSA State and Region 1 ODP teams. Professionally, Scott played at VfB Stuttgart in Germany. Scott is also a UEFA B and USSF B-licensed coach and owns Future Captain Sports, a soccer coaching services business focused upon youth development.

Andre Spangler

A member of The SWAG’s Coaching Advisory Council, Andre Spangler has been a coach with the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy, as well with 1776 United FC and Villanova Soccer Academy, highly-selective club-level programs competing regionally and nationally, as well as nationally-known FC Delco. Youth teams coached by Andre have won multiple regional, national and international events in soccer and futsal, among which include international Iber Cup championship events in Portugal and Texas, the US National Futsal Championships and multiple National Championships in 3-v-3 soccer. Andre played professionally with the Philadelphia Kixx and the Delaware Wizards. As a high school player at Strath Haven Highschool, Andre was an All American, All State and All County player, as well as being selected as the Gatorade National Player of the Year, the Pennsylvania State Player of the Year, and the Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily Times.  Andre was also a US National Team Under-16 player and a State and Regional ODP player. Andre is a UEFA B and USSF D-licensed coach.

Jon Scheer

A member of The SWAG’s Coaching Advisory Council, Jon Scheer is the Director of Scouting for the Philadelphia Union. He previously served in a scouting role for the US National Team with the United States Soccer Federation. Jon also has coaching experience as the former Assistant Head Coach at the University of Delaware, Director of Coaching at Kirkwood Soccer Club, as well as with the Philadelphia Union Junior Academy and Delaware FC. Some of Jon’s professional accolades include the membership in the NSCAA “30 Under 30” Program, a yearlong education and mentorship opportunity for a select few up-and-comers who have mode soccer their career of choice (2014), and the NSCAA North Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year (2014). Prior to his professional career as a coach and scout, Jon attended and played soccer at the University of Delaware, where he was a team captain (2009 and 2010), 4 time dean’s list student (2007 through 2011), and team MVP (2010). His youth and high school career took place in South Jersey, where he was a State, Regional, and National ODP player. Jon is a USSF A-licensed coach.

Tommy Wilson

Tommy is the Director of The SWAG’s Pro Athlete Council and the Director of Academy and Professional Development for the Philadelphia Union. He previously served as the Reserve Coach and Academy Technical Director at Rangers FC, as well as Head Coach for the U20 Scottish National Team. Prior to Rangers, Tommy served as the Head of Coaching Education with the Scottish Football Association. Prior to coaching, Tommy had a long professional soccer career in the Scottish Premiere League with sides such as Dunfermline Athletic, Kilmarnock FC, Heart of Midlothian  and St. Mirren, where he won the Scottish FA Cup in 1987. Wilson finished his playing career with over 300 SPL appearances. He was brought up in Carmyle, Scotland, a small town in the east end of Glasgow. Tommy is from a soccer family, with his father, as well as both brothers playing at a professional level. Tommy is a UEFA Pro licensed coach.
Website: http://www.tommy-wilson.com/

Jimmy McLaughlin

Jimmy is a member of the SWAG’s Pro Athlete Advisory Council and a former professional soccer player with the Philadelphia Union, FC Cincinnati, and Louisville City FC. Prior to his professional career, Jimmy played his youth soccer with FC Delco and Great Valley High School, before attending Colgate University to continue his soccer career, where he was named 2011 Patriot League rookie of the year. He was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia and is currently an analyst with Southeastern Pennsylvania based private equity firm Graham Partners.

Zach Pfeffer

Zach is a member of the SWAG’s Pro Athlete Advisory Council and a former professional soccer player with the Philadelphia Union, Colorado Rapids of MLS. Prior to his professional career, Zach played his youth soccer with FC Delco and Montgomery Maniacs, before spending a semester at the U-17 national team residency at IMG. In 2010 at the age of 15 he became the fourth-youngest player ever to sign a Major League Soccer contract. He was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia and was previously an investment banker with Goldman Sachs and currently works at New York private equity firm Brightstar Capital Partners.

Organization

SWAG Select Player Pool

The SWAG Select is an invite-only program and training slots are awarded on a rolling basis through The SWAG’s scouting efforts.
Child playing soccer
The SWAG Select is an invite-only program within The SWAG and training slots are awarded on a rolling basis through The SWAG’s scouting efforts.
The SWAG’s coaches run player clinics year-round and invite roughly 40 players annually into the SWAG Select pool for additional training at multiple satellite locations in the Philadelphia area, also entirely no-cost to players and their families.
The SWAG Select are 2-time 3v3 National Champions in the 2014 birth year, taking home the title in both 2021 and 2022 without recording a single loss.

Dedication

The dedication of those who support The SWAG is unsurpassed, as evidenced by their personal and financial commitment: all administrative costs of The SWAG are underwritten, so that 100% of your SWAG donation is used to implement on-the-ground soccer programming for the thousands of young athletes involved with The SWAG.
Child playing soccer

SWAG Impact

The SWAG Impact is an innovative educational program offered to SWAG Select players annually, primarily 1st and 2nd grade students. SWAG Impact is designed to enhance literacy, communication skills and early fundamentals in writing composition, history, and geography through the study of past and current famous professional soccer players of African descent from around the world, such as Pele, Ronaldinho, Drogba, and Mbappe, among many others.
Children walking with soccer backpacks
SWAG Impact includes interactive work using software platforms such as Slack and Zoom, incorporating written and narrated video submissions by the students working with one another and the SWAG staff. Students not only study the history of famous players of African descent, but also learn what made the players stand out as professionals, whether that be style of play or results on the world stage.
As part of the SWAG Impact curriculum, students select video clips of the professionals and explain to the other students and the SWAG staff what made those professionals and their teams distinctive on the field.
Click here to watch a video about The SWAG Impact program.

Philanthropic Support

The SWAG is supported philanthropically by the Charity for The Arts, Sports & Education (CHASE), a nonprofit corporation and 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2021.
Additional support is provided by the Silverback Educational Foundation For The Arts, Dance & Athletics. The Silverback Foundation is a private foundation exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, founded in 2013.
Child playing soccer
Both organizations are dedicated to supporting education, sports, the arts, and dance, providing opportunities both for underprivileged youth and for individuals seeking to perform or compete at the collegiate, world class or professional level.

Supporters Acknowledgement

The SWAG would like to extend sincere thanks, and express our gratitude to all of those who make our one-of-a-kind programming possible through their contributions and support.

Special Acknowledgements

SWAG Private School

The SWAG has launched a private school scholarship program for top prospects from The SWAG Select pool. Four to six SWAG Select players and alumni players will be selected annually for the program which involves private school education at a top school in the Philadelphia area, combined with morning training in soccer at the school with SWAG coaches and Philadelphia Union Academy coaches. After school, the players are taken to their training.