New York City Soccer Initiative opened ten new mini-pitches on October 10. Members of the community, partners, and NYCFC players got together to commemorate the occasion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The centerpiece of the event showcased photographs from several entrants of the NYCSI's photography contest.
Including photos taken by Kweku Brew, the winner of the contest.
When Brew left his home he thought he was just going to celebrate the new pitches, but when he arrived and saw his work on display he was speechless.
His day was made, but little did he know that Alex Ring was going to be calling him up to the stage to be apart of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“When Alex Ring mentioned my name, I was shocked. I was like ‘oh that’s me, he’s calling my name.’ So I just ran up and shook his hand, and in my head, I was thinking ‘I’m shaking the captain’s hand,’” Brew said. “It was amazing. One of the best moments of my life.”
Growing up in Ghana and moving to the Bronx, he has always seen the untapped potential in his community. So when this opportunity to enter the photography contest came up, he jumped at it to tell people’s stories and give them a voice.
“I don’t have my own professional camera or anything, but when I go on Instagram or I see people who take pictures I’m always infatuated by their work,” he said. “There’s a story behind every photo like they say a picture says a thousand words, so I’ve always been interested in photography.”
Of the ten blue pitches that opened on Thursday, the one in People’s Park is just a little more special to Brew.
“It’s right by my high school,” he said.
“I didn’t grow up where I had goals, a blue pitch, or even an organized pitch where you could just bring a soccer ball and play.
“Before the blue pitches, me and my friends had to use cans or our book bags to make goals just so we could be able to play. So having the blue pitches, it’s setting the steps and stones for everyone to be able to just bring a soccer ball and play.”
The focal point of Brew’s submission was his community and his love of soccer.
“It doesn’t matter your race, the language you speak, or your background, soccer brings people together, no matter what. It’s very inclusive” Brew said.
“I feel like the Soccer Initiative is a game-changer because it gives people a place to go to after school instead of hanging around and doing something that will get them in trouble.
“The Soccer Initiative is a comfort and a safe zone, just coming there to play soccer.
“Whatever you have going on, just bring a ball and play soccer with your friends or strangers to meet new people and make connections through that one language we all speak. The language of soccer.
“I’m excited for all the pitches being opened for new generations and every generation. I’m glad to just be apart of it.”
As a part of his prize, Brew will have the opportunity to shadow NYCFC’s photographers during the first playoff game.
“I’m excited but I’m going to be nervous because that’s a playoff game, but I’m ready to learn and just get to work,” he said.
“I was born in Ghana and I came here when I was 11, so I’ve been here for seven years. In all my seven years of being here, I never expected this to happen.
“I want to be a photographer for the community and I want to be able to give people a voice to tell their story.
“I’m passionate about photography, but I’m more infatuated by the people and explaining their story through the pictures.
“I still need to do more research and own my own camera to pursue photography, so that's my next step moving forward."