CAMDEN — Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez joined Camden City Councilwoman Felicia Reyes-Morton today to present a brand-new soccer “mini-pitch” — small, customized, hard-court surface recreation areas built in underused urban spots — at Von Nieda Park in the Cramer Hill section of the city.
The mini-pitch replaces an old and seldom-used tennis court at the corner of Pierce Avenue and North 30th Street and represents another significant addition to the amenities offered in Camden City’s parks.
“Like any team sport, soccer teaches our children about leadership, perseverance, and teamwork, but that can only happen if our kids have a safe place where they can learn and play,” County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez said. “Thanks to the generous support of our partners, children in Cramer Hill now have a state-of-the-art soccer pitch within walking distance of their homes.”
The mini-pitch, which is the latest development in Target’s and the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s joint efforts to create 100 mini-pitches by the end of 2020, will be used by the local YMCA and other community organizations for recreational youth soccer games and leagues.
“The Y’s Soccer for Success programs in Camden City began in 2012 with 45 players,” Jen Segelken, Vice President of Community Services for the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, said. “Today, we proudly serve over 1000 players and we cannot wait to implement the program at the new pitches. The Greater Philadelphia YMCA is thrilled to be a part of another project that provides families with another safe place to play and enjoy healthy activities in Camden.”
The U.S. Soccer Foundation, through its It’s Everyone’s Game movement, aims to create 1,000 safe play spaces across the United States and reach one million participants in Soccer for Success programming by 2026. The mini-pitch also serves to introduce the game of soccer in areas where participation is traditionally low. Approximately one-third of kids who use U.S. Soccer Foundation mini-pitches are new to the game.
“Our work at the U.S. Soccer Foundation is centered around increasing access to the beautiful game,” U.S. Soccer Foundation President & CEO Ed Foster-Simeon, said. “But it is not without the steadfast commitment of partners like Target that we can turn our dreams into reality. We are beyond proud of our accomplishments thus far, which include this beautiful pitch and mural at Von Nieda Park.”
According to the US Soccer Foundation, after the construction of a mini-pitch, 98% of the community members say people in the community are more active, 95% say mini-pitch serves as a community gathering place, and 96% say community feels safer.
Two additional pitches are coming to Camden’s Northgate II Park through the Target and U.S. Soccer Foundation partnership. Other pitches have been created across the country in places such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago.
During the opening, officials also unveiled a new mural installation associated with the new park feature created by local artist, Lauren West. West is an illustrator, muralist and designer based in North Philadelphia.