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Philadelphia Union Foundation and EPYSA, in Partnership with City of Philadelphia, Announce Inter-City Mini-Pitch Initiative

July 17, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Philadelphia Union News Release

CHESTER, Pa. - Today Mayor Jim Kenney joined the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer to announce a $3.5 million program to build 15 mini-pitches and two signature soccer fields in Philadelphia parks over the next five years.

"Thanks to Rebuild, made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, we are finally able to deliver a much needed investment in community soccer fields," said Mayor Kenney. "I want to thank the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer for partnering with us to give more residents access to high quality places to play soccer."

The historic partnership between the Philadelphia Union Foundation, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and Rebuild, the Mayor's signature initiative to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and libraries, will reach all parts of the City and address growing demand for high quality soccer fields across Philadelphia.

The first mini-pitch project will be completed at Capitolo Playground in East Passyunk, where three active youth soccer leagues play throughout the year- Lobos Deportes, Capitolo Youth Soccer League, and Capitolo Mexican Soccer League. Mini-pitches are small, customized areas that are perfectly suited for a four-a-side organized soccer programs and pick up games. Mini-pitches can be constructed on the site of old tennis or basketball courts, or build as turf or grass fields.

"Soccer brings so many benefits to communities and kids, from healthy activity, team building, and fun, competitive play," said Paul Howard, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation. "The Philadelphia Union Foundation is proud to work alongside the City of Philadelphia to give more young people access to the beautiful game."

One of the program's signature soccer fields will be built in Southwest Philadelphia, where a growing number of youth and adult soccer leagues practice at rec centers and local parks. Many teams practice at sites without goal posts, and popular fields are overbooked due to growing demand.

"Soccer has been a part of the fabric of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods for over 100 years, and this initiative allows the city to revive that history and thrive forward the next 100," said Chris Branscome, CEO of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer. "This unique partnership will help ensure thousands of children from various neighborhoods and cultures will continue to have the opportunity to grow and thrive through these fields and game of soccer."

The selection process for mini-pitch sites and the second signature field will include a review of local demand, community feedback, and facilities needs assessment. All pitches will be built at existing Philadelphia Parks & Recreation sites and will be a mix of tile, turf, grass, and blacktop surface based on community need and facility conditions.

"Rebuild is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformational investments in our parks," said Nicole Westerman, Executive Director of Rebuild. "Thanks to this incredible partnership with the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Eastern Pennslyvania Youth Soccer, we have the opportunity to give more youth people the high quality recreational spaces they deserve. We look forward to working with communities and leagues across Philadelphia to identify sites for new soccer facilities."

"Our league is all about giving the kids and families in this neighborhood a strong sense of community and a place celebrate our shared heritage," said Luis Uribe, President, Lobos Deportes Soccer League. "Capitolo is home to Lobos Deportes and hundreds of soccer players across three different leagues. We love the park, but wish our mini-pitch was in better shape. We are so excited that we will get a new mini-pitch that's as high quality as our players!"

"I am especially excited to announce this multi-million dollar program at a time when Philadelphia's interest in soccer is peaking- thanks to our annual Unity Cup tournament and the ongoing bid for the 2026 World Cup," concluded Mayor Kenney.

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