A few weeks after opening a mini-soccer pitch at the high school that hosts our Beacon after-school program, local press outlet The Villager shared the scoop! Check out the article online, or read the full text below:
New Soccer Mini-Pitch is Big News on E. 12th Street
By Robert Elkin | July 2, 2015
New York Red Bulls players Connor Lade and Andrew Jean-Baptiste pitched in at the June 10 grand opening of a new "mini-pitch" playing field next to East Side Community High School, at 420 E. 12th St.
There were speakers from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Parks Department, the school and the Soccer For Success program, among other organizations, who all helped make the afternoon possible.
In addition, students from the East Side soccer team took part in the "first kick" and first match on the new field. The student athletes, their parents and school personnel were all glad to finally have their own field for scrimmages, clinics and practice. However, the new field is not a regulation-size field for high school games.
Still, everyone was excited about the school getting a new field, no matter the size. And there's no question that it will get heavy use.
"We have an incredible event," said Alex Bard, grant and compliance officer for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. "The New York Red Bulls helped pull the money together to pay for the new soccer field. The foundation sponsors free afterschool soccer programs."
Bard works out of Washington, D.C., and was in New York expressly for the mini-pitch dedication.
"I'm impressed with the field," he said. "It's great to do something for the school and community in general."
Soccer in the U.S. keeps growing each year, and that's certainly the case at East Side. Principal Mark Federman and his staff eagerly supported getting the field installed.
The Parks Department also played a role in getting the field in shape.
"We'll be having tournaments toward the end of the year and throughout the summer," said Federman, who has been at the school for 20 years, including 14 as principal. "And we'll be having Beacon programs. The Red Bulls will be running programs and clinics for the students.
"But we don't have a regular 11-by-11-size soccer field," he noted, meaning a field big enough so that full teams of 11 players on a side can play. "This is more of a practice field. We play our high school games at other parks."
The afterschool soccer program has really been growing and building over the past years. The Soccer For Success program, which is part of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, has also helped kick interest in soccer up at the school.
In general, soccer has been growing in the East Village area, according to residents and representatives from local organizations. Residents and fans come to watch the action in the local parks and cheer for their favorite teams.
Also fueling the local interest in soccer, there are currently a number of pro teams in New York and New Jersey. Young fans are now following soccer, including watching games on TV.
Others at last week's mini-pitch opening ceremony included Michael Zisser and Melissa Aase, C.E.O. and executive director, respectively, of University Settlement; Monique Flores, director of the Beacon program at University Settlement, who also put a lot of work into the mini-pitch project; Laura Timme, University Settlement associate executive director; City Councilmember Rosie Mendez; Gigi Li, chairperson of Community Board 3; Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver; Manhattan Parks Chief of Staff Steve Simon; Marc de Grandpre, the Red Bulls' general manager; Jim Hannesschlager, project officer of the U.S. Soccer Foundation's Mini-Pitch Initiative, and Thomas Petersen of SportPros USA.
Two weeks after the mini-pitch's opening, Jean-Baptiste was let go by the Red Bulls. But the mini-pitch, at least, is here to stay.