Canarsie school to get new soccer ‘field’

Play ball!: The city plans to build a soccer field atop the tennis court at PS IS 66 on E. 96th Street in Canarsie.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

This pitch is a bit of a curveball.

A Canarsie school is getting what the city is calling a new “soccer field” — but it will actually be about the size of a basketball court, and the surface will be just as hard. Parents of kids at PS-IS 66 on E. 96th Street at first worried that playing soccer on the hard surface would be rough on the youngsters’ knees, but said they’re still looking forward to the new sports amenity, which will replace a rarely used tennis court, said the president of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association.

“That was one of my questions, that what kind of material it was — because we were concerned about cuts and bruises and stuff, which happens in every sport. I don’t think that’s a big deal really,” said Arlene Jobe. “The point is that it will give them something different to do, because that space has not been utilized for a while. It’s a good activity, and I think it’ll benefit the kids.”

The new Canarsie pitch is part of Mayor DeBlasio’s $3-million initiative to bring 50 similar mini soccer fields to underserved neighborhoods across all five boroughs over the next five years. The soccer-boosting program brings together four partners — City Hall, the New York City Football Club, Adidas of America, and the United States Soccer Foundation — to invest the cash to build and maintain the “fields” for the youngsters. But instead of laying down grass or artificial turf, the city is installing what it calls an “all-weather acrylic sports-coating” so that youngsters can kick around a ball even if they can’t afford to buy cleats, according to a spokeswoman from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York.

The new program also offers after-school soccer and mentoring programs, and includes a partnership with the City’s Young Men’s Initiative to provide young men of color with mentorship opportunities, according to the spokeswoman.

The hope is that the new amenity, and associated after-school programs, will help keep locals kids out of trouble, said Community Board 18’s education committee chairwoman during a board meeting on Sept. 13.

“It’s positive, because the community feels that when this field is completed it will be utilized by the youngsters, and in doing so, it’ll keep a lot of the kids off the street or from getting involved in mischief,” said Judy Newton. “We also agree that it will build character, the kids will respect each other and those around them.”

CB18 voted unanimously to green-light the new “field” — that will be less than half the size of a regulation soccer pitch — for the schoolyard between Foster Avenue and Avenue D. The city plans to break ground on the mini-field in the next three weeks and it should only take about a week to complete, according to the spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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