A new mini-pitch at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club aims to fuel big soccer dreams for the young people of East Boston and beyond.
On Friday morning, Boston Scores and the Boys & Girls Club held a ribbon cutting for the new mini-pitch, which was made possible through gifts and donations from the family of Mark and Sarah Williamson, the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Major League Soccer Players Foundation, and Musco Lighting.
“You guys have been nothing short of amazing in the world of community partnerships, and myself and this community and our organization will be forever grateful,” said Salesian Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Michael Triant of the partnership with Boston Scores.
The mini-pitch is the first program space to be activated as part of a $15 million investment by Boston Scores in the Salesian Boys & Girls Club that will also include a multi-field soccer complex, playground, community garden, outdoor classroom, shaded sitting areas, field house, renovated classrooms, meeting spaces, and parking. Boston Scores is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of America SCORES that has provided programs in East Boston and across the city for over 20 years.
“I have never seen a programming space impact an organization in such a short period of time as I have this mini-pitch in just the one week that we’ve had it available to the summer camp,” said Triant. “We have over 150 kids a day, and it wouldn’t be possible without a safe space for them, and they have come out to baptize it, it’s been amazing.”
Boston Scores Executive Director John Maconga noted that the mini-pitch is just the first phase of the Boston Scores $15 million investment in the Salesian Boys & Girls Club.
“This is going to offer new program opportunities and really provide access to the whole community to a world-class educational and recreational facility,” said Maconga, who thanked the club’s board and leadership team for partnering with Boston Scores and making it feel like part of the family.
Maconga also thanked the other donors and partners in bringing the mini-pitch to East Boston.
Williamson, a former Boston Scores board member and current U.S. Soccer Foundation board member, said he and his wife Sarah were delighted to support the mini-pitch project.
“The mission of the (U.S. Soccer) Foundation is to bring innovative play spaces … to underserved communities in a way that fosters wellbeing and helps youth to achieve their full potential,” said Williamson. “It’s great to see the embodiment of that mission here today with this field.”
The U.S. Soccer Foundation works with 700,000 young people annually and has built 600 of the mini-pitches throughout the country.
“This is the first in the city of Boston, and really, what better place to have this one than at this fabulous boys and girls club,” said Williamson.
Dan Jones of the Major League Soccer Players Association said he was excited to represent MLS players, who are committed to working with the communities they play and that the players are from.
Musco Lighting constructed the pitch, and will be adding lights soon so play can extend into the evening hours.
“Musco has partnered with U.S. Soccer and we have invested heavily with the goal to put 1,000 of these mini-pitches across the country by 2026 to promote youth sports accessibility and equal play,” said Mike Berry of Musco Lighting.
Hitting that goal will coincide with the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the United States and see games played in the Boston area.