My own children and those I coach are still forced to play with a lack of quality sports fields that we experienced as children. Meanwhile, demand is growing for more playable land across the city. Teams in all sports are forced to pay out of pocket to travel to the suburbs for better quality match-ready pitches.
Coaches like me across the city have seen the demand for their leagues increase. As we experience this relentless level of street violence and shootings, the need for young people to join a team and play sports has never been greater. The demand for our league is growing.
But we can only serve as many young people as we have grounds to practice and organize matches. Since I arrived, Philadelphia has never had enough land to serve all of the community football, soccer, and other youth sports leagues. How can we engage our young people and help them stay safe from violence and the streets, without the most basic need – a place to play?
As a father, coach and lifelong neighbor of West Fairmount Park, I reject the idea that Philadelphians have to choose between nature and quality grounds for youth sports. Children growing up in more affluent areas don’t have to choose between nature trails and high-quality sports fields. Why should we? Hiking the Wissahickon or biking down FDR’s Lakes should be an experience open to every kid in Philadelphia. I take my kids to Fairmount Park to picnic, explore nature, and hike.