NYCFC unveils mini pitch in The Bronx

Credit: NYCFC

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

New York City FC expanded its commitment to building safe places to play soccer inside New York City Wednesday by unveiling a mini pitch at PS 49 in the South Bronx.

Separate from the New York City soccer initiative launched earlier this summer, this pitch was built as part of MLS Works’ 20 for 20 initiative to create soccer pitches in disadvantaged areas within each team’s market. NYCFC president John Patricof attended along with players Shannon Gomez and Mehdi Ballouchy. Patricof said the club was happy to help the school when it reached out a year ago.

“This is the next chapter in our commitment to the community,” Patricof said.

Also partnering with NYCFC and MLS Works were Adidas, the US Soccer Foundation and Southern New Hampshire University who awarded a full scholarship to Jeff Asare, an immigrant from Ghana working with local children at South Bronx United. Asare intends to study sports management. Through NYCFC and the Third Rail, children attending received free tickets to Saturday’s match.

NYCFC will also be building 50 pitches across the Five Boroughs over the next five years as part of the New York City soccer initiative. Patricof said he hopes that there will be more pitches opened by the end of the year.

“I was just talking to one of the teachers at PS 49 who initiated the program and there’s so much passion and interest in the sport,” Patricof said. “Some kids and some families are new to it but a lot of kids have grown up with the sport. There’s just a lack of places to play so to give these kids the field, the nets and to layer on the instruction—this is what we’re committed to at NYCFC.”

As Patricof spoke, the boys and girls at the Willis Avenue School began playing on the painted asphalt. While most of the children, maybe in the second or third grade, crowded around the ball kicking it against each other. Two boys stood out. One, an African American, wearing an orange #10 pinnie dribbled through the crowd and used his chest to set himself up for a half-volleyed goal. The other, a Latino student, was able to shoot from the left with the outside of his right foot. The parental cheering quickly turned into genuine oohing.

Whether or not those children will become homegrown players for NYCFC remains to be seen.

“It would be just incredible,” Patricof said. “I know that that is a huge part of what it means to be in the MLS, a huge part of NYCFC. Nothing would make us prouder than to find kids growing up in New York City inspired to play soccer hopefully going to school and onto higher education then the MLS and one day if we have on our club at NYCFC.”

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  • Gary SHEFFIELD.

    gee, look at that. new yorks only authentic team once again reaching out to the community.

    how come we never see the dead cosmos going into the community to help? oh thats right, they’re frauds and have been since the reboot.

    you would think stover and obrien would dig out all those boxed up black out t shirts they have stored in the elmont stadium basement and distribute them to the kids.