The blacktop court at Raintree Park in Vista, California was barren and lonely. All of the action was at the nearby soccer fields where children crowded the space and arrived early with the hopes of getting a chance to play.
Raintree Park is located in a densely populated area of Vista, CA with over 20,000 people living in a 216 mile radius. Many of the people living in the area have dire economic situations and according to City Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Brendel, “It is not unusual for nine to twelve individuals to live in a one or two bedroom unit.” Despite hardships, a passion that draws a crowd in the primarily Latino area is the game of soccer.
After recognizing the community’s enthusiasm for soccer, Brendel knew they needed to build more fields to meet the overwhelming demand for field space and immediately began seeking support. Her efforts paid off.
Brendel soon received news that the U.S. Soccer Foundation had awarded the City of Vista a Synthetic Field Grant to replace the rundown blacktop court and build a smaller FieldTurf field with goals provided by KwikGoal. The Foundation and its Partners have developed creative solutions to build fields that maximize the limited space in many urban areas while also promoting “pick-up” play for youth.
Brendel agreed that smaller FieldTurf field was “a brilliant addition to Raintree Park” that could bring the community together and service the local citizens. Unlike a traditional soccer field, the field at Raintree was built with curved walls to prevent balls from flying into the street. “It’s an angles game,” Brendel said of arena soccer. “You ricochet the ball off of the walls, and because it doesn’t go out of bounds, it becomes a faster game.”
Now, just over a year after the initial renovations were proposed, children and adults alike have been exposed to the arena soccer experience. The arena at Raintree is highly accessible to locals and is utilized by the Boys and Girls Club and the MAAC Head Start Program. It is also open to the general public and does not require a usage permit.
Thanks in part to the U.S. Soccer Foundation grant and hard work from community leaders, Townsite is now home to a facility that provides people with an opportunity to play the game they love in a safe environment.