The FC Cincinnati Foundation opened their third mini pitch – and second as an MLS team – on Thursday afternoon at the Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s Hartwell Recreation Center. The mini pitch, which is painted orange and blue, is a place for kids and community members to play the game and spread soccer across the area.
FC Cincinnati forward Rashawn Dally, who was at the grand opening, said it’s a special moment and provides a great opportunity to the community.
“It means a lot because at one point I was in the shoes of these kids,” Dally said. “Just to have a safe area where kids can come and get away to just enjoy the game, that’s a beautiful game. It’s great that it’s continuing to expand and grow.”
MLS WORKS funded the mini pitch in honor of FC Cincinnati’s first season in the league, while the U.S. Soccer Foundation led the project’s construction through its partnership with MLS. Beginning this fall, the pitch will also host the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s “Soccer for Success” programming, which is free and helps promote and improve health and nutrition through soccer.
“I do this a bunch across the country and there’s not a more community-focused MLS team than FC Cincinnati, without a doubt,” said U.S. Soccer Foundation Director of Regional & National Partnerships Michael Vaughan Cherubin. “I’ve watched that from the pre-MLS days.”
The mini pitch, which is now open for people to use, is fenced and lit, and also has goals and lockable storage.
The new Hartwell mini pitch is the third FC Cincinnati have built and opened since 2017. The first opened on Nov. 16, 2017 in East Price Hill. The second opened came online on March 12 at the Lincoln Recreation Center in the West End, just ahead of the club’s first-ever MLS home game. At the time, club President Jeff Berding said it was important to open a mini pitch in the same neighborhood as the club’s future soccer-specific stadium.
As for this new one in Hartwell, it’s the second of 10 that the FC Cincinnati Foundation will open around the Greater Cincinnati area in the next five years.
Each mini pitch serves both as a safe place for children to play and a place to go grow and promote the world’s most-popular sport right here in the Queen City.
“At CRC, we know an active lifestyle is part of making a healthy citizen and a healthy community,” saidCincinnati Recreation Commission Director of Recreation Daniel Betts. “This mini pitch will provide opportunities to embrace that healthy lifestyles for many seasons and for many years to come.”