|NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray speaking at the field dedication. Photo by Jason Schott.
On Tuesday, New York City Football Club cut the ribbon on a new mini-soccer pitch at P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera / P.S. 182 The Bilingual Bicultural School in Harlem, the first ten new mini-soccer pitches across the City.
First Lady Chirlane McCray, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships Gabrielle Fialkoff, and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, were joined today by New York City Football Club (NYCFC) President Jon Patricof, NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira, NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna and NYCFC players David Villa, Jack Harrison and Sean Johnson, community leaders, agency partners and philanthropic sponsors were on hand for the event.
The event kicked off a day of soccer at new pitches in all five boroughs. These 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.
"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.
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.
“Thanks to all of our partners, the New York City Soccer Initiative is not only expanding access to physical activity in our city’s most historically underserved communities, but it is giving NYC youth the confidence and experience they need to thrive. Public private partnerships can lead the way to change, and in this case, the creation of vibrant playing fields and the Soccer For Success program will enhance our communities in all five boroughs, said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships. “We are thrilled to launch the first 10 mini-soccer pitches of the NYC Soccer initiative today and look forward to the next 40, and the joy and achievement that comes from all who play and learn on these fields.”
“We are delighted to have Mayor de Blasio’s office, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club and adidas invest in our parks. Adding amenities like these newly opened soccer pitches broadens opportunities for neighborhood children to become involved and active in this globally loved sport,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.
“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.
The New York City Soccer Initiative is an inter-agency partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, The Mayor’s Fund, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Education, and the Department of Youth and Community Development.
At today’s main ribbon cutting ceremony at P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera in Harlem, New York City Football Club players joined school children from the East Harlem neighborhood for a soccer scrimmage to break in the new fields. Later this afternoon, New York City FC and partners will host local soccer festivals at additional New York City Soccer Initiative pitches, one in each of the five boroughs.
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.
The New York City Soccer Initiative fields will be constructed to ensure year-round functionality. In addition, the New York City Football Club will create a fund to support the ongoing maintenance of the fields. Targeted neighborhoods were determined by place-based Mayoral Initiatives, including the Community Parks Initiative, Building Healthy Communities, and the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety.
The first 10 sites are as follows:
1. Hillside Park/Irwin Altman Middle School 172, Queens, Parks
2. Frederick Johnson Playground, Manhattan, Parks
3. P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera, Manhattan, DOE
4. Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Staten Island/I.S.49 Berta A. Dreyfus, Staten Island, DOE
5. P.S. 093 Albert G. Oliver, Bronx, DOE
6. P.S. 019 Marino Jeantet, Queens, DOE
7. P.S. 184 Shuang Wen, Manhattan, DOE
8. Woods Playground/P.S.335 Granville T. Woods, Brooklyn, Parks
9. Triboro Bridge Playground, Queens, Parks
10. P.S. 66, Brooklyn, DOE
“Soccer has gained significant traction among our youth, with 7,500 young people across the City participating in DYCD’s ‘Soccer for Success’ program this school year. With the NYC Soccer Initiative, we will reach thousands more—especially as we open up these ten new mini-soccer pitches,” said NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, the Mayor’s Fund, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club, Adidas, Etihad Airways, and all the partners involved for building a meaningful program to help keep our young people engaged, and promoting team work and good physical health.”