Washington, D.C. – Girls and boys across the country, including thousands in underserved communities, will gain new access to Safe Places to Play over the next seven years thanks to a new and enhanced Mini-Pitch System™ designed for youth soccer.
These modular pitches – designed by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco Lighting – are complete with lights to increase the number of hours kids and adults can use the space, benches to watch the play unfold, lockable storage for equipment, and include a comprehensive, long-term warranty to eliminate maintenance costs. Together, the mini-pitch system provides a compact but versatile unit that provides a fast, trouble-free installation, fits into urban environments or other areas where space is at a premium, and provides a safer place to play for kids and for the community to gather.
Although participation in youth sports is definitively associated with better health and academic achievement, more than 80 percent of children living in households making less than $25,000 miss out on the benefits of team sports. Furthermore, one in three Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk from home, leaving too many kids without access to a soccer program or safe place for free play.
To address these barriers, the Foundation and its partners are creating 1,000 new mini-pitches nationwide by 2026 and working to offer youth development soccer programming at these sites at no cost to participants. In addition to providing access, the creation of mini-pitches has lasting community benefits: 98% of communities report that the people in their community are more active and 96% report the community feels safer with the addition of mini-pitch. Further, soccer mini-pitches serve as neighborhood gathering places for families, and nearly one-third of the kids who come to play on them are new to soccer.
“There just aren’t enough safe places for kids to play, especially in underserved communities,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We’re creating these mini-pitches right in the neighborhoods where kids live and go to school so they are easy for kids to access. The addition of lights to every mini-pitch, thanks to our partnership with Musco Lighting, will allow even more kids and families to play, especially in the darker, winter months. This means even more kids can benefit from all our game offers.”
“At the heart of the Foundation’s mission is empowering youth with confidence, teamwork, and life skills built through participation in soccer, and that’s a mission we believe in very strongly,” said Joe Crookham, President of Musco. “This mini-pitch system will improve our ability to expand these opportunities more efficiently to more communities that need them. We’re very proud to partner with the Foundation in this important endeavor.”
This model will be used for newly sourced U.S. Soccer Foundation mini-pitch projects. Over the past five years, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has created more than 200 mini-pitches nationwide, with 100 more to come in the next year. More than 15 of this new mini-pitch system are already in use in Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Manchester, NH; Newark, NJ; Oklahoma City, OK; Orlando, FL; and Phoenix, AZ.
Today’s announcement will be made at the grand opening of a new mini-pitch at Reynolds Middle School in the city of Fairview in metropolitan Portland. The mini-pitch was a gift from the W.J. Silverstein Family Trust and is the third mini-pitch that the Trust worked with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to create in the Portland area. Jake Silverstein, co-owner of MLS’s Houston Dynamo and NWSL’s Houston Dash, said “We are so excited to witness the amazingly positive impact these Safe Places to Play are having across our communities. Playing soccer from a young age can be instrumental in fostering a lifetime of health and wellbeing.”
Musco Lighting is a national partner in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s It’s Everyone’s Game movement, which is working to ensure that children living in underserved communities can enjoy the health and youth development benefits of the game. Other national partners include adidas, Major League Soccer, and Target. Each of these national partners has been critical to helping the Foundation increase access to the game and its benefits through the creation of mini-pitches.
To learn more about the Foundation’s work to make soccer everyone’s game, visit itseveryonesgame.org.
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 Musco Lighting
Since 1976, Musco has specialized in the design and manufacture of sports and large-area lighting with innovations in light quality, glare reduction, and light control responsible to the needs of facility owners, users, neighbors, and the night sky. Musco’s TLC for LED® system technology delivers a level of light control and uniformity that can’t be matched, and is the solution of choice for neighborhood fields, collegiate and professional stadiums and arenas, international speedways, and global events such as the Olympic Games. Musco backs its LED solutions with a long-term warranty covering parts and labor, eliminating maintenance concerns and costs for its customers.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Eduardo Zamarripa, Musco Lighting