Herbalife, LA Galaxy, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation Unveil New Community Mini-Pitch at Palms Park in Lakewood, California
LOS ANGELES— Herbalife, the LA Galaxy, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation held a community ribbon-cutting ceremony at Palms Park in Lakewood, California, to unveil and celebrate the new mini-pitch to provide kids with a safe place to play.
“We are committed to building mini-pitches that allow kids to have fun in a safe environment while adopting a healthy and active lifestyle at a young age,” said Humbi Calleja, vice president and general manager of Herbalife, North America. “We’d like to thank the city of Lakewood for supporting this initiative and being here today to celebrate everyone’s hard work and determination to build the mini-pitch.”
The mini-pitch program in Lakewood was created through the LA Galaxy Foundation and Herbalife’s Joint Community Partnership Fund. The idea started in September of 2021 when Lakewood resident and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player Jalen Neal approached staff about his interest in partnering with the City of Lakewood and the U.S. Soccer Foundation to install a mini-pitch at a park in Lakewood.
“Most of our players started playing soccer at a young age, and this program helps encourage future stars to pick up a ball and grab some friends to have some of the best times of their childhood,” said Tom Braun, president of business operations and chief operating officer of the LA Galaxy. “We couldn’t be happier to support a program that gives boys and girls greater accessibility to playing soccer, enabling them to spend time with their peers, be more active, and live healthier lives.”
This mini-pitch also marks the latest development in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s It’s Everyone’s Game national movement to ensure children in underserved communities can enjoy the game’s health and youth development benefits. The U.S. Soccer Foundation has installed more than 600 mini-pitches nationwide. The goal is to install 1,000 by 2026.
“We are thrilled to see a mini-pitch come to Lakewood and are excited it will bring people together for one of the best games in the world,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
The mini-pitch was unveiled with the support of the Lakewood City Council and the local elementary schools, followed by soccer clinics led by the LA Galaxy with participation from the local boys’ and girls’ soccer teams. Mini-pitches serve as community hubs and are shown to strengthen community cohesion, encourage physical activity, and improve safety perceptions.
“Being part of these programs is special,” said LA Galaxy soccer player Jalen Neal. “My elementary school is around the corner, and growing up, we all used these parks to kick around a soccer ball and have fun. Now, as an adult, it’s great to see the improvements made to create a safer place to play, as this is incredibly important for the next generation.”
“The Lakewood City Council thinks this mini-pitch will be a great addition to our city’s recreational offerings and a wonderful place for youth to have fun and develop their soccer skills,” said Mayor Ariel Pe. “This is a great way to help our city’s youth and is the essence of ‘One community, one family,’ which is my motto. A huge thanks goes to Jalen Neal for giving back to his hometown of Lakewood and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the LA Galaxy, and Herbalife for bringing this exciting new athletic court to our city.”
The mini-pitches are made possible through the Joint Community Partnership Fund, part of Los Angeles Galaxy’s Foundation, and Herbalife’s commitment to supporting charitable efforts to promote soccer, healthy lifestyles, and nutrition education in underserved communities worldwide. More than $2.5 million has been invested in initiatives for global communities in need.