Would more soccer fields make Powderhorn Park — and the Powderhorn and Phillips neighborhoods — more or less safe? Latino soccer players and their parents delivered more than 400 post cards to Minneapolis Parks Commissioner Scott Vreeland in early December, asking for more soccer fields in the north part of Powderhorn Park. They believe soccer keeps kids out of trouble. On the other side, some neighborhood residents fear that the soccer fields would create parking and other problems.
Steven Renderos, a local community organizer and supporter of the soccer program, said that when he grew up in Los Angeles, baseball was “the medium to keep kids out of trouble.” Today, for Latino youth in Minneapolis, soccer is key. Renderos cited a series of Sunday brainstorming sessions at the indoor soccer center at Green Central Elementary School. Parents said they like soccer because it provides a healthier alternative to keep kids away from video games, and it is important for public safety. “Providing opportunities for kids to be involved through soccer activities will keep kids out of other kinds of activities,” he explained.
Rosi Cruz founded East Midtown Phillips Youth (EMPY) a local youth soccer program that serves over 350 kids from the surrounding neighborhood. “Our program is not only to come here and play soccer. It’s about schools and it’s about leadership,” she said in a press release, after a December 7 meeting with Vreeland at the Green Central Park Elementary School. That’s where EMPY’s young players gather for indoor soccer during the winter, playing in the smaller “Soccer 6” format that has been proposed for the additional Powderhorn Park fields.
Terry Yzaguirre, a Powderhorn resident, does not want more soccer fields in Powderhorn Park. She wrote in an article in the Minneapolis Mirror:
It’s rumored that the fields are being considered because of the growing Latino population. I’m not trying to take away from something that is a healthy and constructive activity, but I have seen too many incidences involving Latino violence in the Park this past summer. I am afraid that this could create more of a problem. … Let the soccer players go to the new De La Salle High School’s football field …
The EMPY press release quored Moises Aniceto, age 16, who participates in the EMPY program:
“There are people who say that we only get together to commit crimes or violence. We’re not there to rob houses or commit crimes; we’re there to play soccer. Besides there are a lot of adults, our parents come with us and take care of us.”
On the Minneapolis Issues Forum in November, other residents expressed concerns about lack of community involvement in the Park Board decision-making and parking.
Vreeland said in a telephone interview that there is no actual plan for more soccer fields because there is no money. He said that a neighborhood meeting is planned to discuss possibilities, but that all possibilities have to wait for funding.
More soccer fields are a good idea, said Vreeland.
“If you’re there on Sundays (at Green Central school indoor soccer) it’s so cool! There are all these kids, all these adults, playing as hard as they can. … We want to provide opportunities for folks to do those kinds of things.”
Vreeland observed that the “passion for soccer in the new immigrant comunities for young adults is just incredible.” He said that communities want to build on this passion and to involve younger children, beginning as soon as kindergarten, so that these children growing up in Minneapolis will also have a passion for soccer. Vreeland noted that the interest in soccer is also shared by Somali immigrants.
No date for a community meeting about the possibilty of soccer fields has been set, though Vreeland expects that it will not take place until after December. In any case, he notes, finding money for any park improvements would be difficult.