A new addition to a public school is making kids talk with their feet.
On Tuesday, October 17, ten of the first 50 new soccer mini pitches were unveiled around the five boroughs as part of the New York City Soccer Initiative.
One of these new mini soccer fields opened at P.S. 93 and the excitement of its unveiling is still alive and kicking.
The proof of success of this idea came from Major League Soccer’s initiative last year to create safe spaces for kids to play with the opening of the mini pitch at P.S. 49.
Though the New York City Soccer Initiative is a separate program from the one started by MLS, the goal remained the same.
In a collaboration between New York City, New York City Football Club, Adidas, Etihad and U.S. Soccer, the NYC Soccer Initiative was formed with the remaining 40 new mini pitches expected to open over the next four years.
“We want kids to play to promote a healthy lifestyle and tackle this issue of spending too much time in front of video screens,” NYCFC director of Community Development, Paul Jeffries. “There’s also a lot of (soccer) programs that cost money, but all of our programming will be free.”
Since its opening, the mini pitch has been used both by the students and the surrounding community, according to P.S. 93 principal Jonathan Kaplan.
“It’s a great addition to what we have and I’m excited about it,” Kaplan said.
The school had received a wellness grant in the past and has lead a healthy eating program that has included cooking classes with the students and provided a healthy alternative menu during school meal periods.
“It (the soccer field) does lend itself to what we are doing as far as exercise and eating right is concerned,” Kaplan explained.
The mini pitch is used for student play during recess and during physical education periods.
The gym teacher has started implementing play on the new field while teaching kids how to play soccer according to the principal.
The school is also looking at the potential for starting after-school programs in collaboration with some of the organizers of the initiative, NYCFC.
Local elected officials of the area have also welcomed the new addition in Soundview.
“This investment and the partnership with NYCFC means so much to the south Bronx, where for years there was a lack of investment in green and recreational space,” Councilman Rafael Salamanca mentioned in a statement. “The pitch at P.S. 93 is an amazing example of how that tide is turning.”
Assembleyman Luis Sepúlveda, whose son is a big soccer fan, also made a statement about the new mini pitch. “Soccer is a sport that is not only physically healthy, but also builds both character and confidence, all so extremely important to youngsters growing up in under-served neighborhoods,” Sepúlveda stated.
NYCFC is currently accepting submissions for locations to build the next ten mini pitches and they have asked the community to recommend areas they think are most in need of this type of facility.