Following the unveiling of the Crew SC Foundation's plans to build a mini-pitch at Eakin Elementary School in the city's Wedgewood community, Columbus Crew SC players, all with youth soccer ties to the area including Homegrown Player Wil Trapp, reflected on the importance of the announcement and how it reflects on the Club and soccer's role in the city.
"I think this is a beautiful way to step into the community and show commitment and show a club that wants to bring the sport of soccer to the people," Trapp said. "And there's such a wealth of soccer players in this city, it's amazing, and the more we can discover and uncover them, the better all of us will be.”
Less than two months have passed since the official announcement of Crew SC's new Investor-Operator group, and the emphasis on community building as a primary initiative says a lot, Trapp said.
"But the fact that, as what Dee and Pete were talking about, that the pillars of what this Club is now about is, yes, on the field, yes, innovating and growing from a business perspective, but the 'giving back' aspect is so key, and to be already from day one, to be putting something forward, is a great precedent to set."
Federico Higuain spoke to the fact that for kids, a soccer ball is a toy that never stops entertaining, and what this investment means for the sport of soccer in the community and beyond.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s very nice. I believe a soccer ball is a cheaper toy, and you can create a lot of things with that," Higuain said.
"Also, personally, I want to thank the Haslam Family and the Edwards Family because this is going to help soccer in the country. And you know how kids are, when they see people, kids are playing soccer, they will want to play soccer too so I think it’s a good idea and it’s good for the city and the community.”
For Gyasi Zardes, the skills soccer help facilitate ultimately go much further than just on the pitch.
"You have kids that are looking for a way to express their love of the game and I think having a field in a community where a lot of younger kids love soccer, it’s a universal language," Zardes said.
"So it’s going to help them come together and grow, not only as soccer players but as people because they have to understand how to work with others and it’s a lot of character-building skills. But also, it’s a distraction from a lot of the negative things that happen in certain communities as well because kids will be so focused on playing soccer, having fun, it’s so positive it’ll take their minds off of the negative things that happen in the community. So I think it’s a great opportunity for this field to have a positive impact in this particular community.”
Funded by the Columbus Crew SC Foundation and in partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Columbus City Schools, and Columbus Recreation and Parks, construction of the mini-pitch is scheduled to break ground in early Summer 2019, with the scheduled opening date set for mid-to-late Summer 2019.
The mini-pitch is a new prototype that is unlike most others seen around the country and is open to all members of the community. Constructed with lights, the mini-pitch will be available for daytime and nighttime activities.