New York City Football Club President Jon Patricof, Head Coach Patrick Vieira, and players David Villa, Jack Harrison and Sean Johnson were joined by senior council members, community leaders, agency partners and philanthropic sponsors for a ribbon cutting at The Luis Munoz Rivera Bilingual Bicultural School in Harlem to inaugurate the first ten new mini-soccer pitches across the City.
The new fields are the first to open as part of the New York City Soccer Initiative, launched by Mayor de Blasio last year, a public-private partnership to build and maintain 50 mini-soccer pitches in underserved neighborhoods across the five boroughs over the next five years, and expand afterschool programing for thousands of New York City youth.
The initiative is led by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club, Adidas and Etihad Airways. The New York City Soccer Initiative supports Mayor de Blasio’s Building Healthy Communities initiative and the shared goal of ensuring that New Yorkers of all ages can live, work, learn and play in healthy, safe neighborhoods.
"Participating in sports while I was growing up contributed a great deal to the person I am today. I want every child in New York City to have that same opportunity. The NYC Soccer Initiative provides our most vulnerable youth communities with valuable programming and life-long mentors to enrich their lives," said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC.
“This investment in new soccer fields will bring school communities together and encourage teamwork and exercise among students,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. “We thank our partners at NYCFC for their support in helping us bring high-quality afterschool opportunities to hundreds of families in all five boroughs.”
Pioneering a national movement to increase soccer opportunities in dense urban settings, private partners have pledged to invest a total of $3 million in the new soccer pitches and provide free programming for New York City school children focused on healthy, active living. Youth programming will reach 10,000 young people over 5-years with after-school soccer and mentoring programs that promote safe, active and connected communities.
Through the construction of these new play spaces, the New York City Soccer Initiative aims to create safe spaces for youth and wider communities to gather, repurpose underutilized spaces in targeted neighborhoods, and connect more young people to soccer, expand U.S. Soccer Foundation’s nationally-recognized soccer after-school program – Soccer for Success – and ‘City in the Community’ schools program.
“We are excited to celebrate the opening of the first ten mini-pitches, which provide greater access to safe playing spaces and quality programming for youth where they live, play and go to school.” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We are honored to work with our partners and the City of New York who recognize the power of soccer to bring communities together, address pressing issues, and help youth embrace healthy, active lifestyles and learn critical life skills they need both on and off the field. Together, we are igniting an urban soccer movement that is spreading to other cities throughout the country.”