Los Angeles Red Shield’s “Field of Dreams”
U.S. Soccer Foundation officials visit Los Angeles Red Shield Youth Center’s “Field Of Dreams.”
by Janet Chismar –
Local children play soccer on the L.A. Red Shield’s “Field of Dreams.”
It is known as the “poster child” of the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s efforts to reach children in urban and economically disadvantaged communities. Recently, members of the foundation and guests saw firsthand The Salvation Army’s Los Angeles Red Shield Youth Center and its “Field of Dreams.”
After visiting the center, John A. Koskinen, president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, commented, “You can’t help but be impressed, if not overwhelmed, by everything that The Salvation Army has been able to accomplish at this location. We’re delighted and proud to be involved.”
Since 1950, the Red Shield Youth and Community Center has provided a safe and positive place for children and their families to learn and spend time together away from the dangers of the street. For too long, however, the center’s soccer field—the only one in the Pico-Union neighborhood—could not meet the heavy demands of this predominantly Latino community. For several months of the year, the grass and dirt field had to be closed in an effort to restore the field.
But in 2005, Red Shield received one of 10 All Conditions Fields Grants awarded each year by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and its national partner NikeGO to clubs, leagues and communities interested in building synthetic grass fields that can be utilized in all conditions. The foundation also contributed funds to this project from a Neighborhood Initiative Program Grant it received from HUD for community-based soccer projects across the country.
“We are all so overwhelmed by the excellence of the field,” said Irene Lewis, executive director of Red Shield. During the recent visit, Lewis provided a tour of the field and the center, which includes classrooms, a large gym, computers, a swimming pool and more. She discussed the tremendous success of the center’s soccer programming and the positive impact of the field in the community. Youth soccer games were scheduled on the field during this time, allowing the guests an opportunity to see the field in action.