September 27, 2021

Soccer Field Installed At Northeast Area Park To Increase Access For Youth Of Color

Mayor Joe Hogsett cuts the ribbon alongside Ray Gaddis and students from KIPP Indy College Prep Middle School. The celebration was for the grand opening of a new mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park. - Indy Parks

Mayor Joe Hogsett cuts the ribbon alongside Ray Gaddis and students from KIPP Indy College Prep Middle School. The celebration was for the grand opening of a new mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park.

Indy Parks

A new public soccer field was unveiled on Friday at Oscar Charleston Park on the city’s northeast side.

The mini-pitch was installed as part of a nationwide initiative to give youth of color equitable access to the sport. It was built to honor groups Black Players for Change and the Black Women’s Player Collective. Both groups have partnered with Adidas and the U.S. Soccer Foundation for the Mini-Pitch Initiative, a project building mini soccer fields in underserved neighborhoods to remove barriers for kids who lack access to the sport.

Among city officials and local students attending the opening celebration was Ray Gaddis, a former professional soccer player and an Indianapolis native. Gaddis is a member of Black Players for Change.

“It’s a tremendous feat to be able to bring soccer to neighborhoods that may not have access to it, just simply because soccer may be an expensive sport,” he said.

The gates around the pitch are painted with vibrant murals of Black icons, including the park’s namesake and Baseball Hall-of-Famer Oscar Charleston and World Cup champion Briana Scurry.

“We’re not only giving a history lesson, we’re using the vehicle of soccer to transcend in this community,” Gaddis said.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who also spoke at the celebration, said he plans to continue investing in parks around the city. 

“These parks are important to all families in the city of Indianapolis,” said Hogsett. If they're important to our families, they are important to our city.”

The mayor emphasized that as part of the initiative to upgrade Indianapolis parks, developments need to be done equitably. Before the pitch was installed at Oscar Charleston, the nearest public soccer field was over three miles away.

“Every child in Indianapolis deserves access to a place where if they so choose, they can participate in the most popular sport in the entire world,” Hogsett said.

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