NorthStar Soccer Ministries was founded by Paul Neville in 1996 under its initial name, Neighborhood Network. Paul's original vision for the ministry was to help cultivate a wide range of resources for the development of a concentrated geographic area - the Smithfield Community of the city of Birmingham (in which Paul lives). However, Paul quickly realized that youth development was the area in which he and the organization were best equipped for impact.
With this in mind, Neighborhood Network began its mission of reaching out the the local community offering scouting programs, sports teams and a summer learning program called Camp NorthStar. With Camp NorthStar becoming a growing success, a new program name was adopted in 2001 to reflect its change in focus, NorthStar Youth Ministries. At this time, the scouting program, sports teams, and Camp NorthStar were all managed by a full time staff of one, temporary summer staff and many volunteers.
In 2002 the NorthStar began to see a rising interest in soccer among the youth in the program. So, NorthStar Soccer Club was formed as a program of the ministry. Other sports were dropped and NorthStar began entering teams into the regional league. In 2008 NorthStar received a large grant to further develop the Soccer Club program. With this, former Samford University soccer player Val Kikkert was recruited to develop the program. Val officially became the Soccer Club Director in August 2009. Under her leadership the Club grew from 65 kids participating to 150. From 2009 - 2015 NorthStar programs included: NorthStar Soccer, Camp NorthStar and various after-school programs.
In 2014, as program growth continued, NorthStar was invited to bring soccer to Cornerstone School. This led to a partnership with the Woodlawn Community for NorthStar to use the soccer fields at Cornerstone School in the fall of 2015. This partnership grew soccer participation to 240 youth with 10 teams playing in the Central Alabama Soccer League and 10 more teams of U6-U8 intramural players. Through the program we have had several former NorthStar players go on to play on State League (competitive/"traveling") teams with other Clubs. In January 2016, NorthStar re-directed its path to become strictly focused on a soccer ministry. Thus, we changed our name to NorthStar Soccer Ministries.
In January 2018 NorthStar began providing practices after school at Hemphill Elementary School in the West End neighborhood of Birmingham. At that time NorthStar established the NorthStar Intramural League for U6, U8, U10 and U12 teams from our three practice locations - East side at Cornerstone Field (Woodlawn Community of Birmingham), West side at Legion Field Stadium (Smithfield Community of Birmingham) and Hemphill Elementary School in the West End neighborhood. In January 2019 Holy Rosary Soccer (Gate City Neighborhood of Birmingham) became a program partner with teams participating in the NorthStar Intramural League.
Dedicated players from the Intramural program are invited to participate on NorthStar Travel Teams which compete in either Central Alabama Soccer League or Division State League with the Alabama Soccer Association (depending on the skill level of the team).
As NorthStar looks to the future, we hope to continue to grow our program and harbor a place where the local youth comes to learn about soccer, grow spiritually, and seek out life mentors in our wonderful volunteers.