The New York City Soccer Initiative turned three this month as the newest Safe Places to Play mini-pitch was unveiled at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The first of its kind, the initiative focuses on utilizing mini-pitches to expand free soccer programming for thousands of children in New York through our Soccer for Success program, and through NYCFC and City in the Community Foundation programs for children.
Partners of the initiative — including the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, New York City Football Club, and Etihad Airways – gathered to celebrate the creation of the first 30 of 50 Safe Places to Play mini-pitches across the city.
Check out some of our favorite moments from the celebration below!
We kicked off the day with the mini-pitch unveiling in sunny Queens.
Partners and kids from the community shared their excitement about the project. “We’re thrilled to celebrate the opening of the next 10 mini-pitches as part of the New York City Soccer Initiative alongside a dedicated group of partners who have expanded access to the game to thousands of New Yorkers over the past three years,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “These new safe places to play will ensure more youth have the opportunity to participate in programming where they can develop critical life skills that will help them succeed on and off the pitch.”
First Lady Chirlane McCray joined us and shared, “When we invest in recreational spaces for our children, it is more than designating a play space; we energize entire communities and bring neighbors together for positive and healthy social experiences. Together, we are building stronger communities, and helping young people develop habits that will promote wellness throughout their lives.”
“It is truly incredible to see what can be accomplished when the right partners come together under common cause - in this case to create gathering places that encourage joyful play, strengthen a sense of community, and bring energy to underutilized spaces across this great city,” said Toya Wiliford, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.
The community celebrated with the mini-pitch unveiling, DJ, and photo exhibit showcasing submissions from kids in the community. Eighteen-year old Kweku Brew won the contest with his work on soccer culture in the Bronx.
And of course, we held a scrimmage to officially open the new mini-pitch! Special guests and NYCFC players Alex Ring, Justin Haak, and Maximiliano Moralez jumped in on the action as well.
It was a great day to celebrate with the community and partners and we look forward to creating more play spaces across the city!
Over five years, New York City Soccer Initiative partners will build and maintain 50 Safe Places to Play mini-pitches and engage thousands of New York City youth in free soccer programming through the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program and through NYCFC and City in Community Foundation programs for children. Learn more about the partnership here.