HOUSTON, TX (Dec. 3, 2019) – Today, Houston Dynamo owners Jake Silverstein and Ben Guill announced a commitment to create 15 soccer mini-fields, known as mini-pitches, across the Greater Houston area over the next five years.
The new mini-pitches are expected to provide thousands of Houston youth with a safe place to play organized soccer and pick-up games. The mini-pitches will each include lights to extend the hours of play and will be open for the entire community to enjoy. The first three mini-pitches are expected to open beginning in spring 2020.
“I want every kid in Houston to have the opportunity to play and learn about this beautiful game in a safe, welcoming environment,” Jake Silverstein, who spearheaded the partnership, said. “Some of my best memories and most treasured lifelong friendships came from playing youth sports, and every child in Houston—including, maybe, the next DaMarcus Beasley—should be able to grow up believing that the countless doors and opportunities soccer can open are available to them.”
“Part of our responsibility as leaders in Houston and in the Houston soccer community is to create meaningful athletic and educational opportunities in our great city,” Ben Guill said. “We have the ability to help young people throughout Houston experience the joy of playing this wonderful game with their friends in a safe place.”
The U.S. Soccer Foundation will work with Jake Silverstein, Ben Guill, Dynamo legend DaMarcus Beasley, and local partners to identify underserved areas where there is currently limited access to safe places to play. Because of their smaller size and hardtop surface, mini-pitches are ideally suited for urban areas with minimal green space and are excellent ways to provide safe play spaces for children in those areas. The small, hard-surfaced pitches are similar in size to a basketball court are equipped with soccer goals.
“One of the biggest barriers to playing our game is the lack of a safe place to play,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “These new mini-pitches will ensure that more Houston children and their families have a place to play soccer right in their neighborhood. They will also ensure that more children can benefit from all that playing soccer offers, including developing heathier habits and working as a team.”
Beasley and key community members will also be engaged in the development of customized soccer and wellness programming, with an emphasis on communities with the greatest need and locations that are open for public use.
This initiative showcases Houston’s goal of becoming the preeminent soccer city in the United States in support of the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee and is part an overall vision for Houston that seeks to create and maintain 30 mini-pitches and expand the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program in the area. The Houston vision is being pursued in partnership with the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee as part of its “Grow the Game” strategy. Mr. Guill serves on the board of directors for the Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee.
These 15 mini-pitches are part of 1,000 pitches the U.S. Soccer Foundation plans to install by 2026 as part of the national It’s Everyone’s Game movement to create greater access to the sport and its benefits in underserved communities nationwide. More than 250 mini-pitches are already open for use in communities across the country.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo are a Major League Soccer club that has won two MLS Cup championships, one Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and four conference championships in its first 14 seasons and has qualified to represent the United States in international competition seven times. The Dynamo have advanced to the Conference Championship series seven times in 14 years, the most of any Major League Soccer team since 2006; and the club’s four appearances in the MLS Cup Final are tied for the most in the league during that time span. The team trains on the Memorial Hermann Championship Field at Houston Sports Park (HSP), the premier training facility in Southeast Texas, and plays at BBVA Stadium in downtown Houston. For more information, log on to www.HoustonDynamo.com or call (713) 276-7500.
ABOUT THE U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
ABOUT THE W.J. SILVERSTEIN FAMILY TRUST
The W.J. Silverstein Family Trust is the private Foundation of the Silverstein Family, which focuses on improving health, mindfulness, and well being. The philosophy of William James is a guiding principle of the WJSFT.
ABOUT CYNTHIA AND BEN GUILL
Cynthia and Ben Guill, and their children, through the Guill Family Foundation, support educational, medical and health initiatives throughout Houston.