NYCFC, UAE embassy, Groundswell celebrate new soccer field and mural at P.S. 24 in Sunset Park
It’s been a busy summer for soccer between the U.S. hosting the Copa America and the Euros taking place across the pond in France.
On Tuesday, Sunset Park got its own dose of the sport as students, parents, community members and elected officials came together with professional soccer club New York City FC (NYCFC), representatives from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and members of the nonprofit organization Groundswell to celebrate a new state-of-the-art soccer field and student-designed mural at P.S. 24.
The soccer field, which is appropriately dyed light blue for NYCFC’s colors, was donated by the UAE Embassy as part of its mission to help restore communities in New York and New Jersey that were negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
The UAE pledged $10 million for recovery efforts to provide assistance to public schools, reconstruction work and to fund the construction of all-weather playing fields, like the one at P.S. 24.
Since the field opened in September, NYCFC and its partner foundation City in the Community have hosted afterschool soccer programming and coaching on the field.
At Tuesday’s event, head coach Patrick Vieira, along with NYCFC players Jason Hernandez and Ethan White, played on the field with a host of kids from the area.
“I am excited to see first-hand the positive impact this soccer field is having on students at P.S. 24 and the community in Brooklyn,” said Majid Al Suwaidi, UAE consul general in New York.
“We are proud to be here today to celebrate the important work that we are doing right here in this incredible neighborhood — Sunset Park, Brooklyn — made possible by collaboration with two amazing partners,” added NYCFC President Jon Patricof.
“Today, we are excited to announce the completion of the latest initiative in this neighborhood,” Patricof continued. “We are grateful that Groundswell has helped us deliver a mural project that promotes equal access for both boys and girls to lead active lifestyles through soccer.”
The mural depicts girls playing soccer in front of a skyline with notable New York City landmarks. The mural was painted by 30 girls from the community along with help from lead artist Jessica Angel and Groundswell.
“It’s tremendous,” said NYCFC defender Jason Hernandez to the Brooklyn Eagle. “It’s a beautiful mural being unveiled today. P.S. 24 is a big part of the Sunset Park community and I think we’re lucky to be here and be a part of it and it’s been really special so far.”
Several girls, many of whom were too small to reach the microphone, spoke about the themes depicted in their work, which include healthy living, physical fitness and teambuilding. A banner on the mural reads “One Team, One Dream, One Mission.”
Other speakers discussed the importance of having sports as a positive outlet from the stresses of life and as a gateway to more opportunities, such as college scholarships.
“As a club, New York City FC is still in its infancy,” said Patricof. “We are only in our second season, but as the only Major League Soccer team in the five boroughs, we’ve seen this community get behind us, and we are absolutely committed to getting behind our community.”
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