Austin mini-fields provide safe places to play football

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A nationwide effort to positively impact the lives of youth through soccer is underway, with the US Soccer Foundation installing 500 mini-fields in underserved communities.

In April, one of these state-of-the-art mini-pitches was unveiled at Bastrop Middle School. This was the fourth the 4ATX Foundation has installed in the greater Austin area.

In partnership with the US Soccer Foundation, the 4ATX Foundation has installed 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 US Soccer Foundation as an associate of Safe Places to Play.

“Our goal is to use these spaces as places for adults and children to gather around the game of football,” he said.

Mini-pitches are small custom hard court surfaces suitable for pick-up football matches. They are all aimed at increasing outdoor activities and improving the lives of young people in disadvantaged communities.

“When you look at a controlled space like this, as opposed to a large field, it makes the game more accessible to young people,” Dube said.

Devin Rogers plays pickup on the mini pitch of the Dove Springs Recreation Center.

“The sport of football or fútbol is very special to this community,” he said. “This court makes it accessible.”

Rogers said this was the place to play during the pandemic.

“You can see kids light up when they come here,” he said. “Families are also excited to come and use this facility.”

The renovated space is also a place to grow the game for kids like Diego Muñoz.

“If someone sees you play football, they may want to play with you and may be interested in playing and learning,” he said.

The US Soccer Foundation’s long-term goal is to install 1,000 mini-fields in underserved communities by 2026, when the FIFA World Cup returns to North America.

On Friday, June 10, the US Men’s National Team will play against Grenada at Q2 Stadium at 9:00 PM.

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