By Patrick Donachie
A newly announced public-partnership between Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, the U.S Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club and Adidas will fund the construction of 50 soccer fields throughout the city in the next 50 years. Eight will open as early as next year, including two in Queens.
All four partners pledged to invest a total of $3 million into the New York City Soccer Initiative. The money will fund building and maintaining the fields and provide tutorials and activities for New York City schoolchildren. The two Queens locations are at Irwin Altman Middle School 172 in Glen Oaks and at the NYCHA South Jamaica Houses.
“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,” Mayor de Blasio said. “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.”
The city estimated that as many as 10,000 children could benefit from the use of the fields and afterschool programming. The program will fund the creation of soccer clinics, festivals and youth summits for students in the city, and will also include an announced partnership with the City’s Young Men’s Initiative, which will offer mentorship opportunities for young men of color. The de Blasio investment in the partnership is coming from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit organization chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray.
The fields are being constructed for year-round usability, and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Hollis) said the new fields would have a beneficial impact on children and teenagers throughout the city.
“Anything that creates the opportunity for individuals to exercise, play sports and enjoy the outdoors in their local neighborhood benefits the entire community,” he said. “I look forward to the creation of these new soccer fields and hope that the Mayor’s Office continues to support youth programming so that these spaces are fully utilized going forward.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona