Wiseburn USD gifted new futsal mini-pitch facility for community use

Image of Wiseburn's futsal field

Dana Middle School is the home of a new hard court mini-pitch designed for playing futsal and open to the community. The pitch was gifted to Wiseburn USD by the US Soccer Foundation and Black Players for Change thanks to a partnership with the Hawthorne Police Department.

The Foundation is giving 12 of these facilities to communities throughout the nation, based on the hometowns of current and former Black Major League Soccer players and executives, in partnership with the Black Players for Change organization.

Hawthorne, California is one of those 12 hometowns, specifically for Minnesota United player Kei Kamara. A team composed of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Hawthorne Police Department, the City of Hawthorne, and the Wiseburn Unified School District collaboratively and enthusiastically identified our school district as a potential site for Hawthorne’s mini-pitch and began building the structure in late 2020.

The mini-pitch is located at Dana Middle School on the northwest playground area. Wiseburn is currently developing safety protocols for using the facility during the pandemic and beyond, and will release information on community use accordingly.

These modular pitches are designed by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Musco Lighting are valued at $100,000 and include a comprehensive, long-term warranty to eliminate major maintenance costs. Together, the mini-pitch system provides a compact but versatile unit that provides a fast, trouble-free installation and provides a safe place to play for kids and for the community to gather.

Wiseburn is thrilled to be the home of this new facility, which allows the district to offer another athletics option to our students, their families and caregivers, and the community at large. This reinvigorates our conversations around athletic offerings for our community and we commit to initiate ongoing dialogue about field use, the need for baseball fields, our long-range facilities master plan, and other pertinent information related to these important aspects of Wiseburn.

Image of Wiseburn's futsal field

Futsal: good for our students, good for the community

Futsal is a fast-paced small sided (5 vs. 5) soccer game, often referred to as a scaled down version of outdoor soccer. It’s played with a smaller ball and on a smaller field, known as a mini-pitch. The game emphasizes skill, control, and technique, and is often considered safer due to the shorter length of the field.

Wiseburn is particularly excited about what this facility will mean for our students and the community. Our mini-pitch will provide a safe place open to all of our students to play. It will also represent a partnership between the sponsoring organizations, Wiseburn USD, the city of Hawthorne, and Hawthorne Police Department in a one-of-a-kind opportunity to bring different facets of our community together.

According to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, although participation in youth sports is definitively associated with better health and academic achievement, more than 80 percent of children living in households making less than $25,000 miss out on the benefits of team sports. Furthermore, one in three Americans don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk from home, leaving too many kids without access to a soccer program or safe place for free play.

Realizing this, the Foundation set out to find partners to help in an overall mission to create 1,000 new mini-pitches by 2026 and empower communities across the nation through sport. The Black Players for Change organization became one of these partners, and the organization committed to help provide 12 mini-pitches in hometown communities of current and former Black Major League Soccer players and executives. These mini-pitches are part of a new, long-term partnership between the organizations aimed at removing systemic barriers that keep children of color from playing the game and empowering youth to achieve their future goals.

In addition to providing access, the creation of mini-pitches has lasting community-wide benefits: 98 percent of communities report that the people in their community are more active and 96 percent report the community feels safer with the addition of the mini-pitch. Further, soccer mini-pitches serve as neighborhood gathering places for families, and nearly one-third of the kids who come to play on them are new to soccer.

Black Players for Change

At the heart of all of this, international footballer Kei Kamara is also bringing an empowering story to our community and paving the way for our students to have opportunities to excel in athletics as he has. Originally from Sierra Leone, Kei migrated to the United States through a refugee program at 16, and his family eventually settled in Hawthorne, California.

Kamara played college soccer at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where, in his second year, he was named third-team All-American. Today, he is a striker for Minnesota United and is fifth on the all-time Major League Soccer scoring chart with 128 goals. He is one of only 10 players to have scored 100 goals in Major League Soccer history, achieving the landmark in 300 appearances.

Wiseburn is proud to be the home of this new offering for our community, and look forward to seeing the positive impacts the U.S. Soccer Foundation has already witnessed in communities where other mini-pitches have been installed.

We'd like to thank the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Kei Kamara, and Black Players for Change for their generous gift, and the City of Hawthorne and Hawthorne Police Department for their enthusiasm and support of this project.

Image of Wiseburn's futsal field