– Now in the fourth year, the $3 million public-private partnership expands to 37 communities across the five boroughs
– Amid COVID-19, the initiative continues to create more safe places to play and access to free soccer programs
October 21, 2020 – Today, the New York City Soccer Initiative (NYCSI) partners—including the First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray and NYCFC Goalkeeper Brad Stuver—will host a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation of seven new mini-soccer pitches across the city as part of the 50-pitch project.
Launched in 2016, NYCSI is a first-of-its-kind $3 million public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, New York City Football Club (NYCFC), the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, and Etihad Airways, to create and maintain 50 mini-pitches across the city over five years and expand free soccer programming to 10,000 young New Yorkers.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative remains on track to complete the installation of all 50 pitches by the end of next year. To date, a total of 37 pitches have been constructed throughout all five boroughs. Thousands of youth now have access to free programming—including the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program run by the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) and NYCFC’s City in the Community Foundation program—at these locations.
While this year’s celebration was moved online because of physical distancing protocols, this has not quelled the excitement of event participants. Today’s virtual event will be hosted by FOX5 Lead Sports Anchor Tina Cervasio and will include a performance by Renaissance Youth from the South Bronx and a video roll call featuring a ribbon cutting from each new site.
The centerpiece of this year’s event will be the culmination of a youth mini-pitch design contest. For the past month, students have been invited to submit artwork that showcases how a new safe place to play can come to life in their local community. 75% of the submissions were designed by young women with interest in soccer, design and architecture. Last week, the top three finalists were selected by a panel of renowned urban designers, community leaders, and representatives from each of the NYCSI partners including: David Hodge (Partner at Rafael Viñoly Architects), Rick Parisi (MPFP: Landscape Architecture & Urban Design), Jon Stemp (Chief Infrastructure Officer at City Football Group), Marta Hernandez (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), Paul Philps (Bronx Community Board Four), and Eric Klinenberg (Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University).
The top three finalists will present their proposals during today’s virtual event and First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYCFC Goalkeeper Brad Stuver will award the grand prize. NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver helped to select the grand prize winner of the contest.
“Investing in recreational spaces for our children, builds stronger communities and brings New Yorkers together for positive and healthy social experiences,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “These safe places to play will provide more youth with opportunities to participate in sports and programs where they can develop the life skills that will help them succeed on and off the pitch.”
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we invest in our greenspaces for the youth of this city, and I am thrilled that we have been able to complete seven new soccer pitches, with more to come, thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio and all of our New York City Soccer Initiative partners, ”said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “I would also like to give a special shoutout to Justine, Ashley, and Pedro, finalists for the Blue Pitch Design Contest. Your continued creativity, thoughtfulness, and care for your communities will help our city grow even stronger and more equitable in the years to come. Great work, to you all – keep it up!”
“This year we celebrate not only the unveiling of seven new soccer pitches built during the fourth year of the New York City Soccer Initiative, but also the power of partnership that saw us through the challenges of 2020,” said Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, “Thanks to the unwavering support and commitment from the New York City Football Club, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, Etihad Airways, and the Staten Island Foundation, we are on track to achieve our goal of 50 pitches built by next year so that young New Yorkers will have a place to safely enjoy the world’s game.”
“Now in our fourth year of the New York City Soccer Initiative, we are thrilled to open up seven new pitches in 2020, keeping us on track to build and provide free soccer programs on 50 mini-soccer pitches in just five years,” said New York City Football Club CEO Brad Sims. “This has proven to be a very challenging year for all, but at NYCFC, we have remained focused on our work within the local communities across the five boroughs. We are proud to continue to work alongside our dedicated NYCSI partners – the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas and Etihad Airways. Over the last four years, we have seen the impact NYCSI is having across the City; our blue mini-pitches have become real community hubs. This is exactly what we are aiming to achieve – 50 safe spaces where people can come together around soccer. Soccer has a long and vibrant history in New York, and despite the challenges we’re facing, we continue to believe in the power of soccer to uplift communities across the five boroughs.”
“It is incredible to see what we’ve accomplished through this initiative over the past four years,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “These mini-pitches are transforming neighborhoods and serve not only as a place to play, but as a place for neighbors and friends to gather. I’m proud of the work the NYCSI partners have done together, and I’m excited for the day when we complete our 50th mini-pitch in New York City.”
“As we work together with these incredible partners, towards our shared goal of creating and maintaining 50 soccer pitches in New York City, we are so proud to be a part of this momentous milestone,” said Jennifer Valentine, Senior Director Soccer, adidas. “At adidas, we believe that through sport we have the power to change lives and with the addition of seven mini-pitches, we are able to further create positive change in the communities that they serve.”
“At home in the United Arab Emirates, and around the world, Etihad Airways is proud to support soccer clubs because of the power the game has to bring people together. We have been providing services from New York to the world for more than a decade, and it is a privilege to also connect the youth of New York through the building of these soccer pitches. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep building these mini pitches so children have safe outdoor spaces to play,” remarked Yasser al Yousuf, vice president of commercial partnerships for Etihad Airways.
Site selection of the mini-pitches is targeted toward neighborhoods that are focuses of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative, NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, and the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety or the Young Men’s Initiative.
New York City Soccer Initiative Year Four 2020 Mini-Pitches
- Utopia Playground (Utopia, Queens) – 73rd Avenue &, Utopia Pkwy, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366
- Pomonok Playground (Pomonok, Queens) – Kissena Blvd. &, 65th Ave, Flushing, NY 11367
- Fresh Meadows Playground (Fresh Meadows, Queens) – 173rd St, Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
- PS 007 (East Harlem, Manhattan) – 160 E 120th St, New York, NY 10035
- PS 60 (Bulls Head, Staten Island) – 55 Merrill Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314
- PS 18 (Randall Manor, Staten Island) -–221 Broadway, Staten Island, NY 10310
- IS 117 Joseph H Wade (Tremont) – 1865 Morris Ave, The Bronx, NY 10453
New York City Soccer Initiative Mini-Pitches To-Date