As part of MLS All-Star Week, a new mini-pitch was unveiled in St. Paul, Minn. during 2022 MLS WORKS + Target All-Star Community Day.
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, Minnesota United president and CEO Shari Ballard and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were among those to participate in the unveiling at the Mt. Airy Boys & Girls Club Tuesday.
“Minnesota United, we always say, is more than a team name, it’s a call to action and it’s always incredible to see the way different folks of different ages from different communities, from different parts of the state, who might never actually meet each otherwise, who might not interact otherwise join together in the joy and the love of the game,” Carter said.
“The team has been fantastic, they’re a fantastic partner. They are literally always at a rec center, opening up a mini-pitch or helping kids learn to play soccer and support some of our youth-serving non-profits. We really appreciate the partnership.”
In addition to youth from Mt. Airy Boys & Girls Club, beneficiaries of the pitch will include the surrounding communities as well as participants of the Sol of the Cities Futsal League, whose mission is to unite communities through futsal.
The new mini-pitch will allow Sol of the Cities to expand their footprint in St. Paul providing access and a safe space for youth to come together to play soccer.
“It’s awesome. This is what it's all about, giving back and making sure the youth feel they’ve got a place to play, grow up and emulate us and try to be professionals and have fun with soccer,” MLS great Michael Parkhurst said. “It’s the world’s game, everybody plays it. All you need is a ball and a place to play and you can play. There’s so many awesome things about soccer and so many unique plays to play. It’s just an amazing game.”
In partnership with Sol of the Cities, MLS and Minnesota United FC will provide programming for more than 300 coaches through the Urban Soccer Diploma, a unique collaboration between United Soccer Coaches and U.S. Soccer Foundation to provide tools to coaches working in non-traditional soccer settings, including how to best engage youth living in underserved communities.
The new pitch will integrate artwork designed by local youth in collaboration with Design FC, a non-profit organization that works with youth across the country to encourage self-expression and storytelling through design.
“These games take years to put together and you finally get to the point where you can see it all happening in a city that’s been so supportive of our league and an ownership group that believes so much in Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “This has always been a soccer town and it’s great to see them have the fact that they can celebrate one of our great events because they’ve earned it.”