NEW YORK (WABC) --Mayor Bill de Blasio pushing a new initiative bring soccer to under-served communities in New York City.
The mayor on Tuesday announced the launch of the New York City Soccer Initiative, a public-private partnership in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York City Football Club, Adidas and the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC to build and maintain 50 soccer fields across the five boroughs over the next five years.
Fields will begin to open for play as early as next year.
"These new soccer fields will be essential in keeping our young New Yorkers safe, active and connected with the community," de Blasio said. "With this partnership, we are tackling inequalities in all its forms - including in our parks and outdoor spaces."
NYCFC players David Villa, Frank Lampard and Jason Hernandez, as well as head coach Patrick Vieira and sporting director Claudio Reyna, joined the announcement, which comes with a pledge from all four partners to invest a total of $3 million to build and maintain the fields and provide free programming for New York City school children focused on healthy, active living and mentorship.
"When we can make space for children to play in, we're saying that we're invested in their long term health and well being," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. "The City Soccer Initiative will open the doors to a whole new world for kids who may otherwise not have access to these programs."
The program will provide after-school soccer and mentoring programs, such as soccer clinics, festivals and youth summits to promote safe, active and connected communities. The New York City Soccer Initiative will also include a partnership with the city's Young Men's Initiative, providing young men of color with mentorship opportunities.
Through the construction of these new fields, the New York City Soccer Initiative will aim to connect more young people to soccer, expand U.S. Soccer Foundation's nationally-recognized soccer after-school program -- Soccer for Success -- and re-purpose underutilized spaces in the most under-served neighborhoods, creating a safe, public area where a community can gather. All of the neighborhoods being selected to host the New York City Soccer Initiative fields are focuses of the Mayor's Building Healthy Communities Initiative, the Parks Department's Community Parks Initiative or the Young Men's Initiative.
The first eight sites are as follows:
1. J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin - Brooklyn, DOE
2. Cypress Hills Houses, Brooklyn, NYCHA
3. Irwin Altman Middle School 172, Queens, DOE
4. South Jamaica Houses, Queens, NYCHA
5. Millbrook Playground, Bronx, Parks
6. Eagle Academy For Young Men Of Staten Island, Staten Island, DOE
7. Harlem Lane Playground, Manhattan, Parks
8. P.S. 083 Luis Munoz Rivera, Manhattan, DOE