Coming Full Circle

Target and the U.S. Soccer Foundation installed seven new mini-pitches throughout Greater Denver in 2020 as part of their joint effort to create 100 safe places to play by the end of 2020. Michael, a member of the local sports-surfacing crew that worked these projects, had the opportunity to work on a mini-pitch at his former elementary school.

Michael Sandoval grew up in the Cole neighborhood of Denver, Colorado in a duplex that was only meant for two people, but housed him, his parents, and his four siblings. Across the street was his school, Wyatt Elementary, which he attended from 1967 to 1974.

Michael remembers his time at Wyatt fondly, reminiscing about father-son nights with special appearances from Denver Broncos players; field trips to go hiking, to the theatre, or horseback riding; and the nights families would bring baked goods for raffles to raise money for the school. “It was a very involved school as far as being involved in the student’s ability to not only learn, but to enjoy going to that school,” says Michael. “The time I spent at the school was a very enjoyable time in my life.”

Michael (bottom right) and his 6th grade class at Wyatt Elementary

After his time as a student at Wyatt Elementary (now Wyatt Academy), Michael served in the Marine Corps and then worked for TSA. A cabinetmaker by trade, Michael only started working as a sports-surfacing vendor – which involves delicate work in applying coatings, lines, and logos by hand on tennis courts, tracks, and other venues – in the last three years. (The U.S. Soccer Foundation works with sports-surfacing vendors to create mini-pitches.) This past year, Michael has done various surfacing jobs as part of the Coatings, Inc. team.

Michael notes the uniqueness of resurfacing an area in a neighborhood that is meant for public use and free play: “It’s really enjoyable to see something that needs to be done over or something new that needs to be built and once you’re done with it and look at it, know that you’ve created something not just for somebody’s personal courts that we do, but for the community.”

Michael was only more overjoyed when he learned that his team was assigned to resurface a site for a Target and U.S. Soccer Foundation mini-pitch at his alma mater. He remembers thinking to himself, “We are going to do something productive for the kids at the school that I went to.”

By the time Michael and the rest of his crew got to Wyatt Academy for the job, they were already well-equipped for success. “That mini-pitch was the fourth or fifth mini-pitch that we did,” Michael recalls. “As we did those courts, we learned a lot and became more comfortable laying out the dimensions and using the stencils to apply logos.”

But that didn’t stop Michael from doing his best work, even if it meant being affectionately teased by his colleagues. “I was really proud and satisfied to do that particular job at Wyatt Elementary,” he says. “I wanted to make sure that when we were done…that everything was perfect.”

As Michael reminisces about his time as a student, he can’t help but acknowledge that the community has changed – in a positive way – and he is hopeful that the mini-pitches at Wyatt Academy and across the Denver area will only serve to contribute to those positive changes. He notes that the community now has an internet café, bringing everyone together and providing access to technology that they might not otherwise have. “People in the area are now more integrated than it was back when I lived in that area.”

And the mini-pitch, he says, should bring “the community a bit closer as far as the children integrating and having the joy of playing a game that most people would believe is only for certain people.”

In particular, he notes that mini-pitches provide a simple solution for landowners that may lack sufficient space for a full-size field. “This is for schools that don’t have that much area to be able to create a soccer field in their school environment,” he explains. “This really helps them create some type of sporting activity that normally they wouldn’t be able to do.”

Michael elaborates by explaining that the popularity of soccer has significantly grown because more and more people are seeing that anyone who wants to play soccer can and that they can excel at the sport if they are diligent. He credits projects like the mini-pitches for providing this vision. “The soccer mini-pitches that are there are actually helping younger generations to learn and become aware that they can achieve the ability to become good at something that they never thought they would be.”

Target and the U.S. Soccer Foundation are on a mission to create 100 mini-pitches nationwide by the end of 2020. Learn more about the partnership here.


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  • adidas


    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

  • APT


    APT (Advanced Polymer Technology), the Foundation’s Partner for Acrylic Coating Products, is a global leader in high performance sports surfaces. APT provides people around the world with safe, reliable, performance enhancing surfaces. APT’s Laykold Masters acrylic surfacing system will be the official surface of an estimated 500 mini-pitches. For more information on APT, please visit

  • CHA


    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

  • Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson

    Johnson & Johnson, the Foundation’s grant partner, is dedicated to supporting the next generation of female leaders by providing greater access to girls’ youth soccer programming in underserved communities nationwide. As the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson strives to create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. For more information, 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.

  • Musco


    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


    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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