Yesterday, members of New York City FC’s first team helped break in the mini-pitch at PS 184M Shuang Wen, a public school in Manhattan’s Chinatown. It was the 50th mini-pitch the New York City Soccer Initiative has built in 5 years, making good on a promise to bring soccer to children in underserved neighborhoods across the five boroughs.
It was announced at the ribbon-cutting that another 26 mini-pitches will be built leading up to the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Let’s have a round of fist-bumps for the NYCSI partners: The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, NYCFC, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, adidas, and Etihad Airways.
The mini-pitch initiative is one of the greatest accomplishments to come out of NYCFC’s arrival in New York. The soccer fields are a part of a complete rethinking of how the city’s schoolyards should look and function. Gone are the asphalt savannas with faded yellow lines. Now there are trees, turf fields, gardens with native flora, and playground equipment that makes you wish you were an eight-year-old again.
If you have a child, or if you’re kid-adjacent, you know that these playspaces make a profoundly positive impact on communities across the city.
NYCSI doesn’t just build the mini-pitches, it provides funding for maintenance and programming. Next year, the group will hold the inaugural NYCSI Community Cup, a city-wide 5-vs-5 youth tournament that will include free coaching and clinics.
Seriously, the event was all sunshine and good feelings. Malte Amundsen, Taty Castellanos, Tayvon Gray, Maxi Moralez, and James Sands were on hand to kick around with the students, but the kids were less interested in the Golden Boot winner (who wasn’t wearing his golden boots), than getting their game on and scoring against each other. Manager Ronny Deila was on the sidelines, and notably didn’t make any substitutions.
First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray gave a speech, as did NYCFC CEO Brad Sims. The Third Rail worked with students to make a mini-tifo for the mini-pitch, and Ian Paul Joy stepped in to ref the game. Nicely done all around.
Jokes that these mini-pitches train future players for the mini-pitch at Yankee Stadium aside, the NYCSI has accomplished something innovative and unique that directly benefits the children of New York City. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world.
NYCFC supporters should be proud of what our club is doing off the field.