New spaces will provide increased access to soccer programs and pick-up play
Central Falls, RI – Project GOAL announced today that two new mini-pitches are being installed in Central Falls on Ledge Street, a few blocks from the organization’s headquarters. The Mini-Pitch System™ modular sports solution is already in place and the surfacing will be completed in early 2021. The full project is scheduled to be complete by April.
The two mini-pitches will provide more opportunities for youth to not only play soccer, but also serve as a place where children, families, and community members can come together in the spirit of teamwork, empowerment, and physical activity. They will include lights, thanks to support and design by Musco Lighting, that will allow for increased hours of play, which is critical during the winter months.
The new mini-pitches will be used for Project GOAL’s after-school program and be open and available for community members to use for pick-up play.
“Project GOAL has been an amazing organization to have in our community and we thank them for their work in Central Falls,” said Mayor James A. Diossa. “We are thrilled to see these two mini-pitches coming to our community which will bring great opportunities for outdoor activities for our youth and families.”
“Project GOAL is very excited to have the continued support of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the City of Central Falls, and all of our partners in helping bring the mini-pitches to our students and this community. We are very fortunate to have so many who have helped to make this dream a reality,” said Executive Director and Co-Founder, Darius Shirzadi.
Project GOAL provides free, coeducational tutoring and mentoring led by accredited teachers after school two times per week. The organization inspires academic success through the reward of soccer and, by focusing on their academics for 90 minutes, participants earn an equal amount of time to play soccer. Through the soccer program, participants receive high-level training from licensed coaches.
Over the years, many collegiate and pro soccer players have volunteered at Project GOAL, including Michael Parkhurst, Jeff Larentowicz, Scott Caldwell, Julian Gressel, and Damian Rivera, a Project GOAL alum, who have all helped bring this project to fruition.
“I’ve volunteered at Project GOAL for the last three years, and I love what they do,” said Scott Caldwell, member of the New England Revolution and a Project GOAL Mentor. “Providing educational support for their students and an opportunity for them to improve their game, Project GOAL is a program that everyone can get behind. A Mini-Pitch in Central Falls will provide opportunities and access to the students, and it will help the program take the students’ games to the next level.”
“Rhode Island has long held a special place in my heart, having spent several treasured years playing soccer at Brown University and then for the New England Revolution,” said Jeff Larentowicz, member of Atlanta United and a former Project GOAL Mentor. “Having built these Mini-Pitches in other parts of the country, we know the impact it can have on a community and a young player’s life. My former teammates and I couldn’t be happier to share this opportunity with Project GOAL and the future soccer stars of tomorrow.”
The new mini-pitches were made possible thanks to individuals and a number of local and national organizations including: Baycoast Bank, Bayside FC Premier Club, Kick it Forward, Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA), Meridian Custom Homes, Musco Lighting, Tufts/Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, U.S. Soccer Foundation, and University Orthopedics.
“Over the years many of our players have been fortunate to have the opportunity to experience first-hand the impactful work undertaken by Project GOAL,” said Bob Foose, Executive Director of MLSPA. “The MLSPA is thrilled to be part of this project, as part of its longstanding partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, as we seek opportunities to use soccer to help children in under-served communities.”
“The two new Mini-Pitch Systems at Central Falls are a perfect example of what can happen when you have community involvement and support to bring public and private partners on board for a great project,” said Jeff Rogers, President at Musco Lighting. “The catalyst behind that was Project GOAL. We are excited to support the organization in its mission to use soccer to make a difference and we congratulate them on their efforts.”
“We are excited to work alongside our longtime partners at the MLSPA and Musco Lighting to support these two new mini-pitches in Central Falls,” said U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. “Now more than ever, it’s important that children have access to safe places to play and high-quality soccer programs that transform lives. These new mini-pitches will provide just that.”
“My involvement in Kick It Forward is a result of my time volunteering with Project GOAL and for me, without one, there wouldn’t be the other,” said Ben Brackett of Kick It Forward, an Iowa-based organization aimed at developing athletic and life skills in youth soccer players, providing them with powerful resources to live healthy lives, and promoting social change. “When combined with my time as a Brown Bear (Class of ‘07), I’m extremely proud to be a part of this collaboration. Providing places like this for people to play is the future of the game, and I’m excited to see what it brings to the community.”
ABOUT PROJECT GOAL
Founded in 2004, Project GOAL (Greater Opportunity for Athletes to Learn) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization inspiring academic achievement through the passion and power of soccer. As a coeducational after school initiative, Rhode Island middle school youth receive the academic enrichment necessary to achieve and exceed grade level proficiency while building a foundation of social responsibility, teamwork and collaboration in the classrooms and on the field through the reward of soccer training. For more information visit https://www.projectgoal.org/.
ABOUT THE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER PLAYERS ASSOCIATION
The Major League Soccer Players Association serves as the voice and collective bargaining representative for all former, current and future Major League Soccer Players. Formed in April 2003, the Players Association ensures protection of the rights of all MLS Players, while also promoting their best interests and amplifying their voices. The PA is a democratic organization run by and for players, and ultimate control over the PA rests with the players. To learn more please visit www.mlsplayers.org.
ABOUT 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.
Darius Shirzadi, Project GOAL Inc
Elizabeth Harley, MLS Players Association
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation