AUSTIN (KXAN) — A nationwide effort to positively impact young people’s lives through soccer is underway, with the U.S. Soccer Foundation installing 500 mini-pitches in underserved communities.
In April, one of these state-of-the-art mini-pitches was unveiled at Bastrop Middle School. This marked the fourth one that Soccer Assist — a local non-profit in Austin — and the 4ATX Foundation — the nonprofit arm of Austin FC — have installed in the greater Austin area.
Paired in a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, both nonprofits worked together to install mini-pitches in Civitan Neighborhood Park (November 2021), Wooldridge Park (October 2020) and the Dove Springs Recreation Center (November 2019).
Drew Dube works with the U.S. Soccer Foundation as a Safe Places to Play associate.
“Our goal is to use these spaces as places for adults and kids to come together around the game of soccer,” he said.
Mini-pitches are small, customized, hard-court surfaces suited for pick-up soccer games. Each one is aimed at increasing outdoor activity and improving the lives of youth in underserved communities.
“When you look at a controlled space like these as opposed to a large field, it makes the game more approachable for young people,” Dube said.
Devin Rogers plays pickup at the Dove Springs Recreation Center mini-pitch.
“The sport of soccer or fútbol is very special to this community,” he said. “This court makes it accessible.”
Rogers said this was the place to play throughout the pandemic.
“You can see kids light up whenever they come over here,” he said. “Families are also excited to come make use of this facility.”
The renovated space is also a place to grow the game for kids such as Diego Muñoz.
“If someone sees you playing soccer, they might want to play with you and might be interested in playing it and learning it,” he said.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s long-term goal is to install 1,000 mini-pitches in underserved communities by 2026, when the FIFA World Cup returns to North America.
On Friday, June 10, the U.S. Men’s National Team will play against Grenada at 9 p.m. at Q2 Stadium.