Faces of the 4th | Phil Hill
Board member turned Chairman turned Executive Director of Soccer in the Streets, Phil Hill now serves the Atlanta community by providing better opportunities to kids in underserved neighborhoods through a work/leadership initiative involving the game of soccer.
Growing up in Southampton England, playing pickup soccer with the neighborhood kids was a daily activity. Hill kept up this hobby and took it with him wherever he went. Whether he was playing in London after a long day at work, backpacking around Southeast Asia, or spending time with his kids in Atlanta, there was always an opportunity for soccer.
He describes a memory on a tour bus traveling back from the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. He recalls stopping the bus passing a village where the locals were playing a game on a patch of dirt, with players repping jerseys from Barcelona and London. As he joins in, they become equally intrigued by him, so it’s fitting that today, he says that the sport has become his universal language.
Hill started his journey with Soccer in the Streets in 1997 and has since earned numerous accolades with the non-profit organization, including the Beyond Sports global award for innovation in sport. The operation serves 5,000 youth annually with a character-based
curriculum consisting of 10 soccer skills and 10 life skills together, ultimately teaching kids
about decision making, teamwork and respect.
When I ask him if he had other dreams for himself growing up, he chuckles and reflects. The English native didn’t plan for an opportunity as rewarding as this. He started working at Coca Cola right out of college, and the corporate scene was so bad, he decided to buy a plane ticket and ditch London altogether. Atlanta stuck for him back in 1993, where he found the joy in working for onself and he hasn’t turned back since. “Timing is the one thing I’ve got no control over. The timing for what we’re trying to do now is right. There’s an alignment of the number of the stars and I think we’ve got a huge opportunity to really affect some social change with this vehicle we’ve got and for me, that’s the limitless upside to what I’m
doing now and that’s what gets me out of bed.”
In his role as Executive Director, Hill encouraged a unique initiative in partnership with the Atlanta United Foundation, MARTA, and the city of Atlanta to create StationSoccer. Founded in Atlanta in 2016 as the world’s first, StationSoccer has created a transit league, with a goal to have 10 stations running along the MARTA track. “I would see that every kid in this city who wants to have access to the sport can have access to it for free, doesn’t have the issue with transportation, can connect with other kids who want to play in other neighborhoods, and bring the sport to a whole new audience and make it irrelevant to what their social or ethnic background is.”
The world traveler has planted roots in the Peach State, roots that are constantly growing
as he continues to level the playing field for underprivileged communities both on and off the
field. While he loves to be on the field playing with the kids involved in StationSoccer (normally with the kids in Clarkston who are older and “go easy” on him), he also loves to enjoy food and wine off the field. “Food and drink is very similar to playing a sport. Like soccer, it’s social, it involves relying on other people, where they feed you or you’re feeding
other people, it’s an interaction, it’s passionate, you do it frequently, you travel and do it.”
Phil Hill is a man of simple pleasures. He would prefer to visit a game going on at a local park rather than a big stadium, explore the fabric of a small village than a large city, or enjoy a simple English breakfast (with vegetarian modifications) than a large Waffle House All Star special. His dreams are also simple: give access to kids from all walks of life to connect through the game of soccer.