In late July, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Harlem kids will soon have two new soccer fields. Earlier this month, the New York City Soccer Initiative promised to invest $3 million building and maintaining 50 soccer fields in underserved city neighborhoods within five years. The program will help provide afterschool programming for more than 10,000 New York City kids.
At least two of those soccer fields will soon be coming to Harlem, at the Harlem Lane Park Playground and at P.S. 83 Luis Munoz Rivera School. When making the announcement, de Blasio was joined by professional New York City soccer players David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Jason Hernandez.
According to a press release, the New York City Soccer Initiative is a public-private partnership between Adidas, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and the New York City Football Club.
“These new soccer fields will be essential in keeping our young New Yorkers safe, active and connected with the community. With this partnership, we are tackling inequalities in all its forms – including in our parks and outdoor spaces,” said de Blasio. “In the city of immigrants, with so many different languages and cultures, the New York City Soccer Initiative will be one of the great tools we use to unify young New Yorkers. My thanks to the Mayor’s Fund, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, New York City Football Club and Adidas for coming together and building a meaningful program.”
Many communities of color lack public spaces for young people to safely engage in active play and sports, which is one of the reasons Harlem was selected to receive two new soccer fields. Today, less than one-in-three kids has a full-time, stay-at-home parent, whereas more than half of kids had stay-at-home parents in the 1970s.
The New York City Soccer Initiative is part of the national Soccer for Success program, which was honored with the White House’s Social Innovation Fund Award in 2011.
Other soccer fields will be built in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, with the first fields set to open by 2017.
Image Source: NYC.gov