New York City FC today inaugurated the first of ten brand new mini soccer pitches across the city with a ribbon cutting event in Harlem.
NYCFC President Jon Patricof spoke at the event along with Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships Gabrielle Fialkoff, President of US Soccer Foundation Ed Foster Simeon, General Manager of Key Cities from adidas Niels Rossow, Harry Poole from Etihad Airways, Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, and First Lady Chirlane McCray.
Here are all the key quotes from today's event:
Gabriele Fialkoff on bringing together the government and community:
“In this role, I am so grateful that my work is to bring together the government with the business and philanthropic communities to take our work forward in addressing income inequality and creating strategic partnerships that bring together the best of what government and the private sector has to offer. This partnership, the NYCSI, is really a terrific example of this work, working together with our partners, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, NYCFC, adidas, Etihad, and the US Soccer Foundation, we are truly creating a partnership that is getting at the heart what we in the De Blasio administration want to bring to our communities all throughout NYC.
NYC is, of course, a city with rich and diverse communities and neighborhoods but we know that there are startling inequities between our neighborhoods, traditionally there are many neighborhoods that have been underinvested in that lack open space and lack green space and open places to play – and these same communities have the highest rates of chronic disease and poor health… so today we are so thrilled that the New York City Soccer Initiative has focused on our most underserved communities."
Jon Patricof on the Soccer Effect:
“On behalf of NYCFC I’m proud to be here to inaugurate the first 10 of these incredible pitches that will bring so much to these communities, I think if you look at the faces here of these kids and the coaches that help them and mentor them in day in and day out you’ll all agree that it’s an incredible moment for the city, it’s an incredible moment for NYCFC, and it’s an incredible moment for soccer.
"We call it the Soccer Effect at NYCFC – we believe strongly in the ability of this sport to positively improve kids lives. Hopefully, amongst us we have many future soccer stars, we know more importantly that these fields and the good work that will go on on these fields will have a positive impact on your lives and help you hopefully with your studies and your good health habits."
Ed Foster Simeon on soccer being much more than a sport:
“At the end of the day we think about the sport as just fun and games but it’s much more than that. It’s an opportunity for children to have fellowship with one another, to have physical activity, to learn incredible and important life skills: how to win, how to lose, perseverance, accountability to others, all those things – yes – one kid, some children – will be very good and play at the highest level – but we want every child – regardless of where they live – to have access and opportunity to play and learn through this beautiful game. So we couldn’t be more excited.”
Niels Rossow on soccer lessons:
“We at adidas believe that sport has the power to change lives. Sport can teach you so many lessons. Can teach you to win and to lose. Can teach you to be humble. Can teach you to perform as a team. And nothing is better than winning as a team.
I can promise standing here that we remain very much committed to the people of New York and the city that we love so much."
Harry Poole on bringing people together:
“Sport is a powerful tool and soccer particularly has a unique way of bringing people together from different backgrounds and cultures. As a global airline, Etihad Airways is incredibly excited to grow projects aligned with our values of hospitality, team spirit, and connecting people from all over the world. Through the NYCSI we are incredibly proud to support this project that will so profoundly & positively impact the health and wellness of the communities across the five boroughs. The partnership also reinforces our long-term commitment to New York – a market we have served for 10 years and counting. Today is really just the start – 10 pitches – 40 more to go – but I think it is obviously very exciting to look forward to the many years in the future where we will be opening more pitches and continue to celebrate soccers undeniable ability to unite people from all over the world.”
Mitchell J. Silver on increasing opportunities for children:
“Many New Yorkers use our parks and open spaces as their backyards and destinations for physical activity. Our fields are full of soccer enthusiasts. And we are excited that these new pitches will bring the globally loved sport and related programs to even more of New York City’s children. From borough to borough, in neighborhoods like Harlem and Hillside Queens, in parks and schoolyards alike, this program will increase opportunities for our children to get involved in sports and fitness and have fun and enjoy themselves. We are delighted to be involved in this program.”
Chirlane McCray on the benefits of these fields:
“I am so excited about our 10 new soccer fields. I don’t have to list the many benefits that come with these fields. In just a moment these boys and girls will start playing and you will see it for yourself. We don’t need a lot of research or white papers that tell us that playing sports outside is healthy. When young people can play in safe open spaces they radiate joy. The physical and mental benefits are undeniable. I spend a lot of time talking to New Yorkers about mental health and importance of accessible community spaces always comes up. And for our communities neglected by the city for far too long, soccer fields like this one mean new and long overdue opportunities for all of our children. So we're not just leveling the playing field, we’re expanding it for everyone. Over the next few years, we are going to reach 10,000 young people with 50 fields across the five boroughs."