New York City FC, partnering with Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Soccer, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, and adidas, has launched a program that will bring 50 new soccer fields to underserved neighborhoods throughout New York City.
Dubbed the New York City Soccer Initiative, the partnership plans to invest $3 million in fields across the five boroughs. It will also provide school programming for 10,000 kids.
“This is going to have such a good impact on the lives of our children, and give them something that they didn’t have before,” de Blasio said.
Securing spare real estate in the city may prove difficult. But each of the partners is devoted to finding a way to provide children with a safe space to play. Getting more children involved in the most popular sport in the world is a driving factor of the initiative, as well.
“Soccer is a great unifying force. Soccer is the truly international sport,” de Blasio said. “And in this most international cities soccer is one of the things that everybody understands, and it’s something that helps New York City to be harmonious and more unified.”
Since coming to the city, NYCFC has been a major driving force in influencing change in youth soccer and bringing a sense of community to the second largest city in the world.
The club recently partnered with the United Arab Emirates embassy and Groundswell to create a brand new soccer field for a public school in the Bronx. It also created a mural that 25 young girls painted in their own design to accompany the new field.
It’s no secret that soccer is still a niche sport in the U.S. these days. But these types of efforts could bring soccer into the mainstream consciousness.
Soccer has long been a sport for wealthier children who have access to the best coaches, equipment, and facilities. Now, as de Blasio said, this initiative is literally leveling the playing field and making the sport available to everyone.
With initiatives like these and the ones that NYCFC have previously realized around the city, don’t expect it to be long before you see powder blue jerseys and scuffed up soccer balls all throughout the five boroughs.
“I always used to think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have somewhere to go play with my friends and other kids that love soccer,’” NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said. “And now today we have this and it is really a historic moment for everybody connected with not only NYCFC, the city of New York, and soccer, but most importantly the young kids that get to play at the parks.”