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Phang, Elliott and Pryzbylko help dedicate new mini-pitch in Upland

The second mini-pitch in the Chester Upland School District was dedicated Thursday at Main Street Elementary School

I.S. Soccer Foundation

You can add one more mini-pitch in the Chester Upland School District to the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s goal of creating 1,000 new dedicated soccer spaces nationwide by 2026.

The second in the Chester area after Stetser Elementary School’s was dedicated three years ago, the hard surface mini-pitch at Main Street Elementary School in Upland will provide a place for kids at the school and who participate in the Chester Upland Soccer for Success program another dedicated place to play.

“I love soccer and I know the other kids do too, and this field was made so we could do that,” a student named Amaya Howard said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

Howard, who told one of her coaches recently that her favorite thing about soccer is making a new player to her team feel welcome, was joined at the event by dozens of her classmates, Philadelphia Union front office staff and players Jack Elliott and Kacper Pryzbylko along with Phang, representatives from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and a number of local dignitaries.

Union Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott said Thursday’s event was one of many he anticipates the team will be involved in over the coming months.

“Being part of the community... that’s part of our DNA,” McDermott said. “We’ve had a lot of great discussions recently about how we do that and how that comes to fruition over the next few years. We’re really excited and I think you’ll see a lot of announcements in the near term from us about how we do some of those things, how we bring high school soccer to Chester, how we grow the number of mini-pitches in Chester and throughout the Delaware Valley.”

Juan Baughn, the Chester Upland School District Superintendent, echoed the comments of McDermott, who was a student at North Penn High School when he was the principal there.

“It won’t be too long before these young folks will be taking this small field over to the large field and be representing Chester Upland School District and a winning soccer program,” Baughn said.

Alex Bard, director of Safe Places to Play for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, said it’s partnerships like the one between the Union, MLS Works, Chester Upland Youth Soccer and the Chester Upland School District that made the new pitch on a renovated basketball court possible that will make the foundation’s goal of 1,000 new mini-pitches by 2026 a reality.

“We believe that soccer can be the difference in the life of a child, that’s why we’re focused on building safe places to play like the one behind me we are here to celebrate,” Bard said. “But we cannot do that alone and thanks to partners like I’m surrounded by today we can increase access to organized programs and free play.”