By: Carlo Massimo
Dave Johnson, play-by-play announcer for DC United, gestured at the hard red court behind him at the Petworth Recreation Center.
“It’s not just a play space — it’s also a dream space,” he said. “Maybe a national teamer will come out of this pitch.”
The new soccer mini-pitch at Petworth Recreation Center opened on August 6. A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the unveiling. Also, DC SCORES, the youth soccer program and partner of DC United, played in a match.
According to a press release, Keith A. Anderson, the director of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) said this: “We are excited to partner with the U.S. Soccer Foundation to present a space that will inspire our community to play, stay healthy and further the Mayor’s initiative to become a Fit DC. We want to open residents up to as many sports as possible and futsal is takes soccer to a new level on a hard surface!”
Furthermore, DC United players like Chris Odoi-Atsem and Chris Durkin attended the ceremony. Also, US Soccer Foundation’s President Ed Foster-Simeon, DPR’s John Stokes and Jose Soto, and Musco Sports Lightning’s Eduardo Zamarripa, were in attendance. It came only six weeks after the project was approved by DPR. And it came exactly a month after the opening of DC United’s new home turf at Audi Field. Musco Lighting, who lit Audi Field, donated an LED focus-lens lighting system to the Petworth pitch for night games.
The new pitch is part of the US Soccer Foundation’s campaign to build 1,000 mini-pitches and serve a million kids across the country by 2026. It is the first pitch of its kind in D.C.
A DPR representative told The Current Newspapers that Petworth was the ideal neighborhood for a mini-pitch. The recreation center had an underused basketball court. And while DPR could have renovated the basketball court, soccer seemed like a better choice. Petworth is home to a high concentration of Latino families, who traditionally gravitate toward soccer.
Moreover, ANC President Karen Cooper stressed how vital the new pitch will be to the health of the neighborhood. A safe place for children to play, exercise, and develop their sense of citizenship will help everyone in a community still plagued by drugs and crime.
The US Soccer Foundation hopes to have another mini-pitch in the District in 2019. The mini-pitch is open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more need a permit to play.