Manchester City Football Club, which found recent success in its 2011 FA Cup win and its 2012 Premier League title (its first since 1968), is reaching out to communities in the U.S. through its City Soccer in the Community program. After successful field installations in Los Angeles, Miami and a rooftop field in New York, MCFC recently completed a new field in Logan Square’s Haas Park, which will be dedicated Thursday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m.
City Soccer in the Community, a partnership between Manchester City and the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C., aims to build soccer fields for inner-city children and establish coaching programs to promote learning and community involvement.
Gary Hopkins, Manchester City Football Club’s head of international development in the United States, said the program shows the U.S. what Manchester City is all about. “We’ve always believed as a club that giving back to the community is part of our DNA,” Hopskins said.
The Haas Park field is the organization’s fourth in 12 months, and in the interest of finishing the field before winter, the construction was completed in a mere three weeks. Hopkins said the process in Logan Square has been extremely successful, aided by “phenomenal support” from the community, mayor and park district.
Along with MCFC and the UAE, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation provided funding, and the Chicago Park District is putting in lights. In addition, City Soccer provides three years of coaching programs in conjunction with Haas Park and the park district. The organization oversees the qualified coaches, who will hold instruction sessions in the evenings free of charge.
“The idea is to get the whole community involved,” Hopkins said – children as well as their parents.
Hopkins doesn’t see community interest being a problem. He said they’ve visited area schools, and thanks in part to a Hispanic influence in the area, the kids love soccer.
“The thing that was lacking [was] space to play,” he said. “Soccer in general is on the rise in the USA.”
City Soccer is starting off on the right foot with the field’s dedication ceremony Thursday. Manchester City’s English Premiership trophy is being flown in, and team officials and UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba will be present. Fox Sports will be covering the event.
The ceremony will shine a spotlight on the Logan Square community, whose passionate people are what drew City Soccer to the park. Hopkins said the supportive community has already done great things, and building the field in Haas Park was an “incredible experience.”
“We know these folks will take care of it,” he said.
Here’s an idea of what City Soccer in the Community does, from their New York field opening:
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