As soon as the balls scattered from their bags, children started dribbling and shooting in all directions across the turf field. Music bumped in the background.
To FC Cincinnati owner Martha Lindner, a life’s mission is to help children. Often times that’s meant around the world. On Tuesday, she turned her and her family’s direction to the West End.
FC Cincinnati and the FC Cincinnati Foundation opened their brand-new mini soccer pitch at the Lincoln Recreation Center.
“People are coming together to serve children in our city,” Lindner noted during her remarks. “FC Cincinnati Foundation creates a safe place for children to play and learn, a place where they can have healthy adults in their life cheering them on.”
The West End mini pitch is the first of 10 the FC Cincinnati Foundation will build around the city in the next five years. The second will be announced later this year. While the goal of the pitches is to provide a safe place for children to play soccer, it’s an opportunity to grow and promote the sport in the city.
The club previously opened a futsal court in East Price Hill on Nov. 16, 2017. As for the mini-pitch at the Lincoln Rec Center, club President and General Manager Jeff Berding said it was important to make an impression in the same neighborhood as the club’s future soccer-specific stadium.
“It was important the first is in the West End,” Berding said in a speech. “They are our trusted neighbors.”
The field includes futsal lines and goals, laid by Motz Group – the same local company that has provided the grass and artificial turf fields that FCC’s first team uses. A blue backdrop behind the field displays signage that reads “PROUD SUPPORTERS OF WEST END SOCCER” with the club’s logo, the FCCF logo and one for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
Although FCC won’t begin play in the neighborhood until 2021, Tuesday’s unveiling offers an opportunity soccer to take root now. Both Alvas Powell and Nazmi Albadawi were there to play with the kids, teach them tricks and bring smiles to faces.
One of those children was Terico, an 11-year-old from the community who plays soccer at the rec center.
“It’s actually cool because we’ve never had a soccer court in the West End,” he said.
Lindner has been involved with children’s charity work for 25 years with Back2Back Ministries. Work has helped vulnerable children on multiple continents. The mini courts are a chance to make an impact in Cincinnati.
“I feel like it’s a continuation of what Carl and I have been involved in since we were in our late 20’s,” Martha Linder said. “It’s exciting.
“My father-in-law always used to say, ‘Martha why do you always have to go to Mexico? Why do you have to go to India? Why do you have to go to all these places? Why don’t you do something in Cincinnati?’ I said, ‘You know what? I just go where God directs me and where he opens up doors. This is like an open door for Cincinnati.’”