Changing the Landscape

Passersby would probably not have identified the outdoor playing grounds at East Side Community High School as a recreational facility. Lacking any grass, and with the stems of poles sticking out of the ground, the area resembled a vacant, unkept lot more than a place where a school would hold its P.E. classes. Those who worked at the school described the playing space as a dirt patch with holes where people would throw their garbage. The area was full of broken glass and pipes.

aerial before

It was a dangerous area where kids could get hurt, and it angered Mark Federman, the school’s principal, that the space wasn’t being taken care of.

“It was a danger zone,” he says.

The kids were playing wherever they could play — in the cafeteria, in the art gallery, in the hallways — because they didn’t have a proper place to practice.

“If it had just rained, then the dirt pitch would be complete mud,” says Charli, now a junior at East Side, of her middle school playing days. “We had to make space [to] practice.”

ground before

In 2012, East Side Community High School’s middle school team played in its first soccer league. The team started out with just six players. After some internal recruiting, Coach Lou, the school’s P.E. teacher, enlisted three girls, which brought the team just above the eight-player minimum to join the league.

The team lost all 12 games they played in that first year, but Coach Lou says that it was the beginning of something huge.

In the spring of 2013, East Side Community High School started integrating Soccer for Success into its after-school programming through University Settlement, a non-profit that serves families in the Lower East Side of New York.

“At that point, we had already started our soccer program, but what [the] U.S. Soccer Foundation was providing was even more depth, and specifically, it was [providing] training for the coaches,” Monique Flores, senior program director at University Settlement, said of Soccer for Success. “That was when Coach Lou got really great training and was able to make connections with other coaches and really expand our soccer program.” Coach Lou is now the Soccer for Success head coach.

While the school had been able to implement quality soccer programming, students were still playing on a dangerous surface. As if on cue, Monique discovered that the U.S. Soccer Foundation was looking to build a mini-pitch at one of the New York City Soccer for Success sites. “It was like a dream come true,” she says.

Monique shared that having a mini-pitch at the school would help families connect their kids to teams by providing a new and improved safe play space, as well as programming.

About a year before the mini-pitch opened, the New York Red Bulls joined the partnership to help fund its construction. “We thought this was a great opportunity for us to be there and to grow and develop the game of soccer,” says Christina Giunta-Quarino, senior director of field marketing and community relations with the New York Red Bulls.


“Once they started construction of the mini-pitch, there was definitely a new wave of excitement amongst everyone, even the people who weren’t soccer players,” Charli says.

Coach Lou explains that participation numbers increased as a result of the construction. By the second year of the soccer program, 50 girls and boys were participating. Today, the school rosters girls and boys Junior Varsity and Varsity teams for both middle school and high school, and even then, the teams are overflowing.

The only way to meet the new demand was to introduce year-round soccer programming, which, in addition to Soccer for Success and middle school and high school soccer leagues, includes the Chelsea Piers indoor league and Asphalt Green Soccer Club. Since the opening of the mini-pitch just under three years ago, the teams have won over 10 championship titles across local leagues.

Even though they compete in other leagues, the teams that come from East Side preserve a key element of Soccer for Success. “The great thing about our program is no cuts,” says Coach Lou. “Everyone plays.”

aerial after

The mini-pitch was officially unveiled in the summer of 2015, and the local community has witnessed a handful of positive changes since its opening.

For one, the mini-pitch has changed the landscape for the local community. “Soccer has become something really important for a lot of our inner-city youth,” says Monique. “Because of the field…we’re highlighted as the great school for soccer and the kids come to school and want to go to that school because of the soccer program.”

Children who apply to attend East Side even include their desire to join the soccer program in their applications. “We hear more and more in their letters and in their applications that they’re wanting to be on the soccer team, wanting to be part of the soccer program,” Mark says.

“There’s just so many kids who want to play soccer,” Charli says. “[The kids] who have been at East Side and have played a different sport, or no sport at all, see that soccer is such an inclusive sport. The pitch really brought everyone together to see that this is a school that takes soccer seriously and wants success, not just for the sport, but for the students who play it too.”

Christina reiterates that the kids have “become real fans of our team and the sport.”

mini pitch

While the mini-pitch has impacted the way the local community feels about soccer, it has been especially meaningful for the students at East Side.

“Before, the kids were playing on a dirt field and could barely see the ball because the dirt was kicking up and they really didn’t have any place to play,” Christina says. “Now, with Soccer for Success programming and the mini-pitch, they’re able to play afterschool and have leagues there.”

Not to mention that for a lot of these kids, stepping on the mini-pitch for Soccer for Success is their first experience playing soccer. “They line up in front of my office to get the ball and the jersey,” says Coach Lou. “Having a soccer ball that belongs to them means everything to them.”

“You see kids who have never played before [and] they’re starting to enjoy the sport,” says Charli. “Once you see a mixture of kids who have never played, and a coach who has been playing soccer his entire life, and kids who have played, and kids who are kind of in that middle ground…it really adds a sense of inclusivity…it’s a place where everyone can play.”

“Inner-city kids don’t get enough opportunities to be outside and playing,” says Monique, “and if we can actually organize that to happen for them and they’re having fun, then it’s a perfect win-win.”

Safe Places to Play mini-pitch at East Side Community High School is an accessible, inclusive, and safe place for members of the community to come together and play the world’s game. Help us bring these opportunities to more kids across the country. Visit to get involved.


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adidas, the Foundation’s Safe Places to Play – Mini-Pitch Partner, supports providing children in underserved communities with safe play spaces nationwide. adidas strives to be the globally leading and most popular sporting goods brand. Dedicated to innovation,  adidas embraces creativity and seeks to be socially responsible in all facets of its brand. For more information, please visit



CHA Sports, the Foundation’s Supplier for Soccer Facility Design and Planning Services, provides community partners with expertise in soccer facility design. CHA Sport’s full service approach allows the company to build world-class projects without breaking budgets. For more information, please visit

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

The DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation

DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believe that participation in sports makes people better. Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Foundation have pledged more than $100 million to support youth sports teams and leagues in need.  Through our Sports Matter initiative we strive to increase awareness for underfunded youth athletics nationwide and provide much-needed support through equipment, uniform and monetary donations. For more information on Sports Matter, visit



GEICO is committed to impacting local communities through Educational programs, Community Development projects and Equity & Inclusion initiatives. To date, GEICO has donated to 7,000+ charities and averaged between $6 and $8 million in annual giving over the last two decades. To learn more about GEICO’s commitment to the community please visit

Kwik Goal

Kwik Goal

Kwik Goal, the Foundation’s Official Supplier for goals, seating, boundary equipment, training equipment and coaching accessories, will be supporting a variety of Foundation programs and initiatives including: Soccer for Success, National Training and the Safe Places to Play program. Over thirty years ago, Kwik Goal was founded on the revolutionary concept of providing transportable goals for coaches at all age levels. Since that time, Kwik Goal has continued to focus on helping coaches and soccer programs create safe and dynamic learning environments by supplying high quality, safety tested soccer goals, field equipment and training equipment to the domestic and international market. For more information, please visit



MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS is committed to improving the communities where we live and play our games by executing national programs and legacy projects, charitable giving campaigns, and undertaking various initiatives in underserved communities.



As a proud corporate partner of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco is dedicated to helping the major charitable arm of American soccer create new opportunities through high-quality sports lighting. Their Total Light Control—TLC for LED™ technology is engineered as a system with lighting, structural, and electrical components designed to work together for streamlined installation and long-term reliability. TLC for LED delivers superior field lighting while eliminating glare and spill from impacting surrounding neighborhoods. And Musco’s long-term warranty covering parts and labor means U.S. Soccer Foundation partners don’t have to handle any maintenance on their system, or pay for it, for 25 years. Visit to learn more about the grant program and application process.

SCORE Sports

SCORE Sports

SCORE Sports, the preferred provider of shin guards to the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program, is a family-owned and operated business specializing in sports equipment, uniforms and apparel. SCORE is an industry leader and has been involved in the sports community for over 40 years. SCORE outfits athletes with high-quality uniforms that SCORE develops, designs and manufactures in the U.S. SCORE takes pride in working with various non-profit groups and causes to give back to athletes who may need some extra support to play the game they love. SCORE is environmentally cautious with the materials it uses for its products and does its part in minimizing our environmental footprint. SCORE proudly offers a wide variety of products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all your soccer needs. For more information, please visit, the Foundation’s National Partner for Soccer Equipment and Uniforms, was founded in 1984 to provide high quality soccer gear at reasonable prices through its nationally circulated catalog. embodies a passion for the game that extends to the people who play, coach and support soccer. For more information, please visit






Target announced a national partnership with Safe Places to Play in 2017, along with a $6 million commitment to build 100 new soccer play spaces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation by 2020. This is the latest initiative in the Minneapolis-based retailer’s multi-dimensional approach to the sport of soccer, bringing the game to more kids and families across the country, and unlocking access and increasing involvement at all levels.

TGI Worldwide

TGI Worldwide

TGI Worldwide, the Foundation’s National Partner for Visual Branding (Signage, Event Décor, Pageantry, Sponsorship Activation), Perimeter Field Board Systems, Creative Services and Event Operations is proud to support a variety of initiatives and programs throughout the United States. Headquartered in the U.S., TGI is an internationally recognized sports marketing company delivering high profile Visual Branding, Live Event Management, LED, and cutting edge Digital Sports Applications to enrich the experience at major events and deliver commercial impact for sponsors and partners. The company has a 20-year history in providing its various solutions for many top-tier domestic and international events, organizations, teams and companies, with proven success and turn-key solutions across 1000+ events, 160+ cities and 50+ countries globally.

For more information on our services, please visit or contact Mike Squire at / Phone: 312-371-5852.

World Soccer Shop

World Soccer Shop

Launched in 2001, World Soccer Shop is an online soccer retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama. It carries one of the world’s widest selections of officially-licensed products from the sport’s top brands and teams. World Soccer Shop is passionate about soccer and endeavors to spread the beautiful game around the world, especially to those in areas of need. For more information, please visit

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