Milestone marks halfway point to organization’s goal of installing 1,000 mini-pitches in underserved communities by 2026 when the FIFA World Cup comes back to North America
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Soccer Foundation today announced that it has completed its 500th mini-pitch toward its goal of creating 1,000 by 2026. The 500th mini-pitch will be opened this afternoon at Hendley Elementary School in Washington, D.C., followed by a soccer festival with students.
Mini-pitches are small, customized, hard-court surfaces that are perfectly suited for both organized soccer and pick-up games. Ideal for urban areas and other communities where space is at a premium, mini-pitches increase soccer participation, strengthen communities, and improve the lives of youth.
In fact, survey data collected by the U.S. Soccer Foundation found that:
- 99% say people in their community are more active after installation of a mini-pitch
- 98% say their community feels safer after installation of a mini-pitch
- 96% say their mini-pitch is accessible to all
- 91% say their mini-pitch serves as a new community hub
- 5x more soccer is played at sites after installation of a mini-pitch
- 31% of mini-pitch users are new to soccer
“Mini-pitches are transforming the landscape of hundreds of communities and are a critical component of increasing access to our game,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “Because mini-pitches are located right in neighborhoods where children live and go to school, they make play the easy choice and provide a safe place for children and families to enjoy the many benefits of soccer when they may not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.”
Major Partners & Initiatives
The first mini-pitch was installed with Orlando City SC at John H. Jackson Community Center in Orlando, FL. Since then, major corporations and organizations have joined forces with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to create mini-pitches in underserved communities across the country.
In 2016 in honor of Major League Soccer’s 20th season, MLS, adidas, and Southern New Hampshire University launched the 20-for-20 Mini-Pitch Initiative and installed a mini-pitch in each of the 20 MLS club markets. Together with its clubs, MLS and the Foundation have collectively created 247 mini-pitches across the country with 57 more to be installed soon, bringing the total to more than 300 mini-pitches created together.
Since 2017, adidas has supported the creation of more than 100 mini-pitches in cities including New York City and Los Angeles. Last month, adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation announced a new Just Ball League coming to NYC and LA this fall. The league will provide free, competitive neighborhood soccer leagues to participants using the existing mini-pitch infrastructure to host league play.
Also in 2017, Target pledged $7 million to create 100 mini-pitches in communities nationwide. The 100 mini-pitches were completed in 2020. Target has continued to support mini-pitch projects since the partnership officially ended, including projects in DC, Las Vegas, and Kansas City, among others.
In 2018, Musco Lighting designed a new and enhanced Mini-Pitch System™ alongside the U.S. Soccer Foundation, which is now used for mini-pitch projects. The system is complete with lights to increase the number of hours children and adults use the space, benches to watch play unfold, and lockable storage for equipment. Musco is also contributing more than $10 million to the Foundation in support of its mission.
In February 2020, The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation pledged $5 million in support of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s United for Girls initiative. Through this partnership, the two groups are in the process of installing a total of 15 mini-pitches in communities across the country.
Through a partnership with Black Players for Change, Black Women’s Player Collective, adidas, and Musco Lighting, 18 new mini-pitches were created over the last two years to provide greater access to soccer for Black children in communities nationwide.
Large regional partnerships have also brought hundreds of mini-pitches to communities across the country.
- The New York City Soccer Initiative (NYCSI) was the first-of-its-kind, $3 million public-private partnership that brought 50 mini-pitches to the five boroughs. NYCSI partners announced at the 50th mini-pitch opening in November 2021 that they would create 26 more mini-pitches in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup.
- Through the Chicago Soccer Initiative, the Foundation teamed up with Chicago Fire FC, Chicago Park District, and Ken Griffin to create 50 mini-pitches at parks across the city.
- Through the Newark Soccer Initiative, the Foundation joined the New York Red Bulls, Newark Public Schools, and Wells Fargo to create 20 mini-pitches at schools across Newark.
- Through the Los Angeles Soccer Initiative, the Foundation teamed up with Los Angeles Football Club, Los Angeles Unified School District, Kaiser Permanente, and adidas to create 16 mini-pitches so far at sites across Los Angeles, with more projects planned for the future.
- The Houston 2026 World Cup Bid Committee and U.S. Soccer Foundation are working to create 30 mini-pitches across the region by 2026. Ben Guill and DC United and Swansea SC co-owner Jake Silverstein are funding the creation of the first 15 mini-pitches, six which have already been installed. Houston Dynamo FC owner Ted Segal has also contributed to the effort.
- Together with Fields & Futures, Musco Lighting, Energy Assist Foundation, and 7-Eleven, the Foundation created 10 mini-pitches at Oklahoma City Public Schools.
The D.C. Soccer Initiative is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s latest city-wide mini-pitch initiative. Made possible by the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, the MLS Players Association, and Target, the partners will complete 10 mini-pitches at DC Public Schools by the end of this calendar year. Hendley Elementary—the site of the 500th mini-pitch—is one of the four already completed alongside mini-pitches at Hart Middle School, Plummer Elementary School, and Sousa Middle School.
The Foundation’s mini-pitches are part of its mission to provide underserved communities access to innovative play spaces and evidence-based soccer programs that instill hope, foster well-being, and help youth achieve their fullest potential. Through the It’s Everyone’s Game movement to create access to the sport and its benefits, the Foundation’s goal is to create 1,000 mini-pitches and engage 1 million children in its programs by 2026.
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.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation