Last Thursday, First Lady Chirlane McCray and city officials joined executives from New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and other partners of the NYC Soccer Initiative to announce that the pitches will be built on time and on budget.
The $3 million public-private partnership plans to build and maintain 50 mini-pitches that will serve some 10,000 New Yorkers.
“When children play together, they learn important life skills like teamwork, sharing and empathy,” McCray said. “These are the social and emotional skills we want all of our children to learn, whether they’re inside or outside of a classroom.”
The newest pitch unveiled is located inside Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a place where NYCFC CEO Brad Sims said the partnership has been targeting since the initiative began.
Sims said the park area has an “amazing soccer culture” and a lot of soccer fans.
“It really is in alignment with our club’s mission, which is to build New York as a soccer capital of the world,” he said. “These are going to be the next generation of New York City soccer stars playing on this pitch.”
Out of the nearly 30 mini-pitches built so far, several are in Queens, including Triboro B Playground in Astoria, Hillside Park in Jamaica, Playground Sixty Two in Rego Park, Equity Park in Woodhaven.
In the crop of 10 new pitches built in 2019, other sites include PS 150 in Brownsville, Neptune Playground in Coney Island and Century Playground in Coney Island.
“Creating these soccer pitches allow families to bond and enjoy soccer, but also allows our park constituents to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett. “I know this soccer pitch will be enjoyed by many for years to come.”
Among those who celebrated the new pitch in Flushing was NYCFC midfielder and Brooklyn native Justin Haak. The 19-year-old said it’s usually hard to find places to play soccer in New York City because it isn’t the “number one sport.”
But thanks to these types of investments, soccer is growing more and more popular, he said.
“This is really special for the kids,” Haak said. “It’ll definitely inspire them and make them want to come out more and play soccer with each other.
“I hope they become great soccer players,” he added, “and maybe one day, they can even play next to me at NYCFC.”
Sims, addressing young students at the unveiling event, said he hopes the pitches will be safe places for them to “chase your dreams.”
“Hopefully, one of you will be the next Justin Haak,” he said.