Courtesy of the New York City Football Club
NYCFC player Valentin Castellanos, along with students and teachers at PS 220 Edward Mandel in Flushing, celebrate the launch of the new club on Soccer Day.
By Carlotta Mohamed

Students and teachers at PS 220Q celebrated the opening of a new soccer pitch in the Flushing community with a red ribbon cutting ceremony Monday on Soccer Day.

New York City Football Club soccer player Valentin Castellanos met with about 40 students at the school, located at 62-10 108th St., and participated in soccer activities.

The celebration is a part of the New York City Soccer Initiative’s goal to build and maintain 50 soccer pitches in underserved New York City neighborhoods in five years, and provide free programming for school children, focusing on healthy, active living, and mentorship.

“Since the start of this initiative, it’s been exciting to see the power of these new pitches to bring entire communities together around the game we all love,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, president and CEO of the US Soccer Foundation. “We’re excited to continue to open new pitches across the city and work with our partners to ensure that all youth have the opportunity to play the game, embrace a healthy lifestyle, and learn critical life skills that help them succeed on and off the pitch.

In its second year, the New York City Soccer Initiative has proudly opened a total of 10 mini-soccer pitches with the New York City Football Club in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, the US Soccer Foundation, Adidas, and Etihad Airways.

Together, the partners have shared a goal to repurpose underutilized public spaces in underserved neighborhoods into safe places to promote physical health and youth development and community engagement where soccer is not always accessible.

This model has been rolled out in other urban neighborhoods throughout the country since the initiative’s inception.

According to NYCFC, 20 total pitches will be in use by the end of 2018.

First Lady Chirlane McCray, chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York, said the 10 additional soccer fields built by the New York City Soccer Initiative creates safe spaces for hundreds of children and their families to come together for exercise and social activity.

“Soccer, like other team sports, teaches young people how to work together, and lays a strong foundation for good health and friendships among our youngest New Yorkers,” said McCray.

“This combined effort between the Mayor’s Fund and the partners of the New York City Soccer Initiative is one of the many ways public-private partnerships make our great city even greater.”

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

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