NEWARK, N.J. – An innovative new soccer mini-pitch system was unveiled at Newark’s Luis Muñoz Marin School on Thursday, marking the fourth mini-pitch opened this year in Newark. The opening is part of a five-year partnership with the New York Red Bulls, Newark Public Schools, U.S. Soccer Foundation and Wells Fargo to increase access to safe places to play across the city by creating 20 new soccer mini-pitches. As part of this initiative, more than 2,500 Newark youth will be engaged in Soccer for Success, the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s after-school soccer program that delivers positive health and youth development outcomes. The program will operate on many of these new sites.
“I want to thank the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the New York Red Bulls, Wells Fargo and all of our partners for investing in our schools and students and changing the face of schoolyards across the city,” said Newark Superintendent of Schools Roger León. “The new soccer pitches will allow our students to engage in physical fitness, learn the tenets of teamwork, and have fun. Partnerships that benefit our students are an essential part of our success as a district.”
Area families, members of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, Newark City officials, and representatives from the Luis Muñoz Marin School officially opened the new pitch alongside the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Wells Fargo, and Musco Lighting at an event yesterday.
“Today is another significant step in our commitment to providing mini-pitches for the children of the Newark Public Schools,” said Marc de Grandpre, General Manager, New York Red Bulls. “Thanks to the generosity of our valued partners, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Wells Fargo, along with the support from Musco Lighting, the students of Luis Marin Muñoz Middle School will have an innovative mini-pitch that includes full lighting for safety and extensive storage for convenience. This venue will further their passion for our beautiful game.”
Mini-pitches have also been created at Belmont Runyon School, BRICK Avon Academy, and Rafael Hernandez School this year.
“Wells Fargo is proud to partner with local and national organizations on this important investment in the City of Newark,” said Gino Cammarota, Northeast Treasury Merchant Services Manager at Wells Fargo. “Being involved in organized sports at a young age provides so many valuable life lessons and this program will positively reach so many Newark students as well as other community members.”
The mini-pitch system at Luis Muñoz Marin Middle School features a complete system design that incorporates fencing, lighting, and goals. The system was developed to assist the U.S. Soccer Foundation with its national movement, It’s Everyone’s Game, which endeavors to build 1,000 mini-pitches in cities across the country by 2026 and engage one million young people annually through the Foundation’s Soccer for Success program.
“We’re grateful to have such valuable partners here in Newark who are committed to providing local youth with safe places to play,” said Ed Foster-Simeon, President & CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “We’re also excited to unveil the first mini-pitch prototype developed by one of our key national partners, Musco Lighting. Their devotion to the It’s Everyone’s Game movement is evident in their innovative approaches to providing children with safe places to play past daylight hours.”
Newark is the third municipality nationwide to make a major commitment to building safe places to play and expand sports-based youth development programs for its youth as part of this larger national movement.
National partners, including adidas, Major League Soccer, Target, and Musco are lending critical support to ensure the movement’s success.
To overcome logistical issues working with a multitude of contractors, suppliers and municipal agencies across different markets—and to avoid construction delays and site relocations—engineers at Musco developed a prototype of a comprehensive mini-pitch system.
“The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s mission of positively impacting the lives of up to a million young people in the next decade is something we believe in very strongly,” said Joe Crookham, President of Musco. “These community pitches will be a place for local youth to learn, grow, develop confidence and teamwork, and have fun. We want to do everything we can to help with this important endeavor.”
The Foundation and its partners have plans for multiple mini-pitch openings in more than a dozen cities across the country over the next several years.
About New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls are one of 22 teams in Major League Soccer (MLS). They are one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since it’s founding in 1996. They currently play home matches at Red Bull Arena (RBA) in Harrison, New Jersey. RBA, a state-of-the-art 25,000-seat stadium, is widely regarded as the top soccer-specific stadium in North America. The club is owned by the Austrian beverage company Red Bull GmbH for which the team is named. The New York Red Bulls offer one of the nation’s premier youth soccer development programs. The club provides grassroots training programs to all ages and skill levels, and also offers elite players a pathway from those programs to the Regional Development School, then on to the academy teams and, ultimately, to the Red Bulls professional team.
About Newark Board of Education
The Newark Board of Education is New Jersey’s largest school district with 62 schools and nearly 37,000 students, serving children in Pre-K through high school. On February 1, 2018 the Newark School District was returned to local control following 22 years of being under state control. On July 1, 2018, Roger León became the first Superintendent of the Newark Board of Education following the return of local control to the school district and the first Hispanic to serve as Superintendent in the district’s history.
About U.S. Soccer Foundation
The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s programs are the national model for sports-based youth development in underserved communities. Since its founding in 1994, the Foundation has established programs proven to help children embrace an active and healthy lifestyle while nurturing their personal growth beyond sports. Its cost-effective, high-impact initiatives offer safe environments where kids and communities thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Soccer Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 8,050 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 38 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.
About Musco Lighting
Since 1976, Musco has focused on the design and manufacture of sports and transportation/infrastructure lighting systems, from hometown Little League® fields to professional sports stadiums and ports around the globe. Offering permanent and temporary lighting systems for new and retrofit projects, we bring first-hand knowledge and experience with the many issues that impact players, spectators, neighbors, television broadcasts, and staff.
Christina Giunta Quarino