A brand new, all-weather soccer and volleyball court was officially opened last Saturday at the James Finnigan Playground off 70th Street at Passyunk Avenue. Representatives of the donating organizations, local youth and families, local soccer program and community volunteers joined a large contingent from the 12th Police District for the ribbon cutting at noon.
The impressive new facility is the result of months of planning and a major volunteer effort by Elmwood area residents to replace the outmoded hockey rink that previously occupied the space.
The key partners included love.fútbol, an international group represented by one of its co-founders and CEO, Drew Chafetz; The Pincus Family Foundation originated by Philadelphia philanthropists David and Gerry Pincus with Danielle Scott Executive Director attending; Street Soccer USA with King Saah, program development manager for Philadelphia and his team present; and Bill Salvatore of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commission who coordinates the Philadelphia Unity Cup for which more than 50 local soccer teams compete.
Composed of synthetic material in colorful patterns, the well-lighted facility is designed to provide access for play by ever greater numbers of local young people – for exercise and healthy activities. This promotion of sport falls into line with the principles of love.fútbol which also stresses community participation in its programs. In the case of the Finnigan installation, over 150 youth, residents and friends graciously provided over 1500 hours of hard work to complete it. The culmination of that effort was
“Build Day,” last weekend.
With colorful flags fluttering in the breeze behind him, MC Rashiid Marcell opened the event by introducing Southwest’s own Paul “Earthquake” Moore. A well-known activist and local church preacher, Moore warmly welcomed the assembled guests and residents to the ceremony and vendor fair. He also mentioned that he is working on a book, “The Fight is Not Over,” about his long battle with cancer.
Monalisa Hamilton, a member of the Parents and Neighbor’s Network, was thrilled with the outcome of the joint effort of the community and outside supporters. “I love it! It’s so exciting! The field will serve as a reminder to all of us how the community volunteers came together to create it. It also tells the kids that the community cares for them!” Hamilton thanked the donors and outside supporters for their magnificent contributions.
A part of the day’s agenda included performances by the beautiful young ladies of the Worldwide Unique Star Dance Studio and interpretive dancers AfrLoyalty and Musa Kamara.
After the formal ribbon cutting, Street Soccer USA’s able leadership team organized two participatory events: a hilarious three-person group activity where one adult and two youngsters held a soccer ball together with their foreheads to see how far they could go before the ball fell. All of the 12th District Police Officers joined enthusiastically in this activity, which emphasized cooperation and communication for success – symbolically the key to police/community relationships in a larger sense.
The afternoon wound up with a spirited one-on-one competition by pairs of youngsters to kick a soccer ball through the waiting nets.
The soccer court is the second one installed through the sponsor team of love.fútbol and the Pincus family, the first being one at Tanner Duckery Elementary in North Philadelphia. Other projects by this partnership include those in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.