Columbus, OH – The Columbus Crew SC Foundation, Columbus City Schools, Columbus Recreation and Parks, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation together unveiled a new mini-pitch at Eakin Elementary School in Columbus yesterday. The new, state-of-the-art mini-pitch is complete with built-in goals as well as lights, allowing community members to enjoy the game past daylight hours.
Columbus Crew SC executives and players, Columbus City officials, and other representatives were all in attendance to celebrate the new play space. The event was also attended by local Soccer for Success participants, who got to officially open the mini-pitch with a first kick and scrimmages, coached by Columbus Crew SC players Alex Crognale, Jon Kempin, Patrick Mullins, and Josh Williams.
This mini-pitch supports the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s It’s Everyone’s Game movement, which aims to build 1,000 safe play spaces and reach one million participants in Soccer for Success programming by 2026.
“The opening of this mini-pitch is an example of Crew SC’s commitment to improving our community by providing access to safe places to play soccer,” said Crew SC President Tim Bezbatchenko. “Soccer can be used as a vehicle to improve education and provide additional learning opportunities and creating this positive, lasting impact is a priority for Crew SC ownership, the entire Crew SC front office and the Crew SC Foundation.”
“Healthy bodies fuel active minds, and playing sports is a proven way to keep children healthy, teach them to work successfully as part of a team, and boost their energy and confidence,” said Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon. “We appreciate the donation of this mini-pitch at our Eakin Elementary and all the ways in which Columbus Crew SC has stepped up to provide more of our District’s children with opportunities to learn and grow in and out of the classroom.”
“This is an exciting collaborative partnership that provides much needed recreational resources for Columbus youth. The investment in this new mini-pitch supports the goal of ensuring every resident has access to programs and services through Columbus Recreation and Parks,” said Council President Pro Tem Brown.
“Our partners in Columbus have energetically demonstrated their support of our mission to increase access to the beautiful game, particularly to those living in underserved communities,” said U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. “We’re eager to see where this partnership takes us as we continue to provide more children in Columbus with safe places to play and high-quality soccer programming.”
At the unveiling, Columbus Crew SC President Tim Bezbatchenko, Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter, Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon, Columbus City Councilmember Liz Brown, and U.S. Soccer Foundation Safe Places to Play Director Alex Bard delivered short remarks about the importance of the new mini-pitch for the local community. Crew SC TV play-by-play announcer Neil Sika served as the event emcee.
ABOUT COLUMBUS CREW SC FOUNDATION
Founded in 2003 as the charitable arm of the Black & Gold, the Columbus Crew SC Foundation’s mission is to change young lives through a passion for soccer. The Columbus Crew SC Foundation’s core areas of focus are soccer field development, funding grants for underserved leagues and clubs, providing Major League Soccer experiences for at-risk youth and supporting coach, player and referee development in underserved communities.
ABOUT COLUMBUS CITY SCHOOLS
Columbus City Schools is Ohio’s largest school district with 50,000 students served across 110 schools. Eakin Elementary is located on the west side of Columbus and provides quality educational opportunities to nearly 300 students starting in Pre-Kindergarten through 5th Grade.
ABOUT COLUMBUS RECREATION AND PARKS DEPARTMENT
Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s (CRPD) mission is to connect the people of our community through the power of nature, wellness and creativity. With more than 380 parks, 29 community centers, five athletic complexes, six golf courses and 120 miles of regional trails, our vision is to ensure every resident has access to all of our department’s many services. When visiting one of our parks, we expect our spaces to be a places of joy. We expect our facilities and parks to be open to all. Last, we expect our spaces to be embedded in neighborhoods and serve as gathering places for every member of our community. As a department, we align our strategic goals with the 2014 Master Plan because we believe our spaces are important assets entrusted for generations. For more information, visit columbusrecparks.com or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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.
Carlos Mojica, Crew SC Communications Manager
Jennifer Arnold, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Sophia Fifner, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department