PHILADELPHIA — A mini-pitch in the neighborhood of Somerton became the fifth to be dedicated on Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing project between Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and local organizations to create additional spaces for children to play the beautiful game.
Chris Branscome, CEO of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, joined Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, city officials and partners at Gifford Playground for the ribbon-cutting on Thursday.
“Somerton is a great soccer neighborhood,” Branscome said. “I have so many friends that I grew up playing with and against that are from this area.”
Ryan Campbell, Rec Leader and PPR Soccer League Director for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, said soccer is by far the most popular sport in the after-school program at Gifford.
“The kids here at our after school program used to use any two poles as goalposts or a part of a fence as the goals,” Campbell said. “It’s just going to be nice to have this beautiful dedicated space to soccer that they can use every day not just for the after school program but for all the kids in the community.”
Totaling nearly $330,000 in renovations, the facility near William Loesche Elementary School now has refinished surfaces, new fences, updated gates, and soccer mini-pitches on its 6-acre site. The two mini-pitches constructed at Gifford received funding from Rebuild’s partnership with Eastern PA Youth Soccer and the Philadelphia Union Foundation.
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After Thursday’s ribbon-cutting, kids were able to play on the mini-pitch and take part in other fun activities. Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer had soccer balls and other giveaways and staff members joined in with the kids playing on the new mini-pitch.
“This field is built for you,” Branscome said. “That’s the reason why we do this.”
Previous mini-pitch dedications were held at Fotterall Square Park in July 2023, Glavin Playground in March 2023, Capitolo Playground in July 2022 and Francis J. Myers Recreation Center in July 2021.