Celebration of 50th mini-pitch to take place in spring 2022; The initiative led by Chicago Fire FC, Chicago Park District, Ken Griffin and the U.S. Soccer Foundation has expanded access for more than 10,000 youth to play the world’s game
CHICAGO – Today, the Chicago Soccer Initiative – Chicago Fire FC, Chicago Park District, Ken Griffin, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation – announced the completion of 50 mini-pitches that are now open at Chicago Park District locations across the city. The initiative, which was first announced in December 2017 with leadership funding from Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin, was finished a full year ahead of its expected completion.
– Download photos of the Chicago Soccer Initiative 50 mini-pitches here.
“Four years ago in Chicago, we announced that our team at the U.S. Soccer Foundation was going to dramatically scale our work by installing 1,000 mini-pitches and engaging 1 million children in underserved communities by 2026,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “I’m thrilled that we have made great progress toward our goals, and it is thanks to partners like those here in Chicago who have worked alongside us to help more children in underserved communities benefit from all the social, emotional, and health benefits our game provides.”
The 50th mini-pitch is now part of more than 450 mini-pitches that the U.S. Soccer Foundation has installed and opened nationwide on its path to create 1,000 mini-pitches by 2026. This initiative is dramatically expanding the reach of Foundation’s work to improve physical and social youth development through soccer – providing greater access to the sport and exposure to the teamwork and leadership skills that it teaches. In addition to bringing these new state-of-the-art places to play into neighborhoods across Chicago – with a large concentration of the mini-pitches in the city’s south and west sides – partners have worked to increase access to free, high-quality programming on the mini-pitches and ensure that they are open for pick-up play.
“The completion of the 50 mini-pitches across the city of Chicago represents an incredible milestone for the Chicago Soccer Initiative that began nearly four years ago,” said Chicago Fire Foundation Executive Director Jessica Yavitz. “This initiative emphasizes the importance that our Club and partners, in the case of the 50th pitch, United Airlines, place on providing a safe place for the community to play soccer, create friendships and instill an active, healthy lifestyle.”
“We are thrilled to work together to give local youth access to state-of-the-art soccer practice facilities,” said Chicago Park District Interim General Superintendent & CEO Rosa Escareño. “The 50 mini-pitches are more than just an investment in our parks, it’s also an investment in our kids, local communities, and city.”
To celebrate the completion of all 50 mini-pitches, the Chicago Soccer Initiative and additional partners will host an event in spring 2022. More details will be sent out closer to the spring 2022 event.
To find a mini-pitch location near you, visit https://ussoccerfoundation.org/map/.
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.
ABOUT CHICAGO FIRE FC
The Chicago Fire Football Club was founded in 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire and will kick off its 25th season in Major League Soccer in 2022. The Fire have won six major domestic championship titles, including the 1998 MLS Cup, the 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups, as well as the 2003 Supporters’ Shield. The Club’s charitable arm, the Chicago Fire Foundation, was recognized as ESPN’s 2019 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. The Fire plays their home matches at historic Soldier Field. For more information, visit chicagofirefc.com.
ABOUT THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT
The Chicago Park District has served Chicago residents for more than 85 years. It is a Gold Medal Award-winning organization, which recognizes excellence in park and recreation management across the nation. For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,800 acres of parkland, more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, over 75 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertainment programs, please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312/742.PLAY. Follow us on Facebook @ChicagoParkDistrict and on Instagram and Twitter @chicagoparks.
ABOUT KENNETH C. GRIFFIN
Ken Griffin is the founder of Citadel, one of the world’s most successful global alternative investment firms, and Citadel Securities, one of the largest market makers in the world. In addition to his wide- ranging contributions in global finance, Mr. Griffin has been recognized as one of the top philanthropists in America. His catalytic giving – amounting to over $1 billion in recent years – has included game-changing philanthropic initiatives to advance education, healthcare and economic opportunity.
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Justyne Freud, Chiago Fire FC