Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2021

Soccer Mini Pitch Honoring Former MLS Player Ray Gaddis Unveiled in Indianapolis

As part of a national partnership between Black Players for Change (BPC), Black Women's Player Collective (BWPC), the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Musco Lighting and adidas, the latest mini-pitch honoring members of the BPC and BWPC was recently unveiled at Oscar Charleston Park in Indianapolis. The mini-pitch honors BPC member and former MLS player Ray Gaddis, who grew up in Indianapolis and attended North Central High School.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation's mini-pitches are small, customized hard-court surfaces that work well for organized soccer and pickup games, and are installed with lighting, fencing, goals, benches and other amenities. They are especially well suited to areas where space is at a premium.

"It is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to bring a mini-pitch (soccer pitch) to the greater Indianapolis area. I believe that the mini-pitch will serve the community in several ways by granting local residents exposure to new opportunities through the beautiful game of soccer!" said Gaddis. "When God blesses you, you have to be a blessing unto others. Just as my family and the city of Indianapolis have contributed toward my success, it is my turn and duty to be a catalyst and empower my community through the game of soccer."

Aimed at removing systemic barriers to the sport of soccer for youth of color, the initiative focuses on selection of mini-pitch locations in underserved areas in communities that lack access to safe places to play.

The Oscar Charleston Park mini-pitch features colorful murals to celebrate the contributions of African-American trailblazers, including late baseball Hall-of-Famer Oscar Charleston, former USWNT star, World Cup Champion and Olympic gold medalist Briana Scurry, and the first female self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker.

At the grand opening event, local students joined Mayor Joseph Hogsett and Gaddis for an official ribbon-cutting, followed by a "first kick" and scrimmages on the new pitch.

"The new mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park will allow even more residents to play soccer with their friends, families and neighbors," Hogsett said. "We know that quality parks can help build community ties, increase healthy lifestyle choices and provide benefits to the local environment and economy. That's why the city is putting significant funding toward parks and greenspaces in neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis."

In addition to the mini-pitch in Indianapolis, additional mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC have been completed in Hawthorne, Calif., San Diego, Orlando, Fla., and Louisville, Ky., as part of the national partnership. These pitches all aim to provide greater access for Black children to play the game.

"Youth today are facing a host of challenges with the continued spread of COVID-19 causing disruptions in school and activities," said Ed Foster-Simeon, president and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. "That's why we are thrilled to continue opening new mini-pitches across the country, like the one at Oscar Charleston Park. These new spaces not only provide a safe place to play our game, but make it easier for children to be physically active and connect with friends and coaches. Even more, these mini-pitches honoring BPC and BWPC inspire the next generation and provide role models that look like them on and off the field."

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