A valuable and underutilized piece of city land in the Menomonee Valley will finally be put to good use, as the site of cost-free youth soccer programming next year.
The Milwaukee Torrent Community Foundation announced on Friday that it had entered into an agreement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee to provide afterschool soccer to children at 10 Milwaukee Public Schools in 2018. MTCF will program activities both onsite at each MPS location and, from April through September, outdoors at the Viaduct Fields, 212 S. 35th St.
“I am totally thrilled about this,” Andreas Davi, the owner and head coach of the Torrent, told OnMilwaukee after signing the contract Friday morning. “It’s great for the Torrent, it’s great for the Foundation, it’s great for Milwaukee and it’s great for the kids. What we’re doing now is exactly what the City wanted with the Viaduct Fields.”
Owned by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, that space, approximately 13 acres under the 35th Street viaduct along Canal Street in the Menomonee Valley, was earmarked for no-cost youth soccer and fields. But due to a lack of compelling proposals and contentiousness among local groups, including political, nonprofit and youth sports leaders, the City had trouble finding an entity that would properly and positively utilize the land.
The partnership between the Torrent Community Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, which was two years in the making, apparently satisfies RACM’s demands. The Torrent don’t have their own youth soccer teams and the Boys & Girls Clubs are open to everyone, which Davi believes will encourage kids of all backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities to participate.
The agreement begins on Jan. 8, 2018, with 10 MPS schools – mostly on the South Side – selected to take part in the first year. According to Davi, during the winter session, the MTCF and Boys & Girls Clubs will program at two schools and up to 60 children per day, every day, reaching a maximum of 300 kids a week. In the summer, when youth activities in the city are needed even more, Davi hopes to see that figure double, with Torrent players helping him coach. Going forward, he expects the number of schools and participants to grow every year.
“This is a huge step toward providing soccer to kids in the inner city, or who don’t have access to a club or the money to play on one,” Davi said. “Also, we are able to introduce the game to so many kids who have never played it and give them a chance to play.”
Thanks to a contribution by the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Torrent will be able to provide the sessions for free, which fulfills the City’s wish. Donations from supportive companies in the Menomonee Valley helped pay for goals, and the MTCF will supply balls, cones, pinnies and other equipment. Davi said he plans to line the fields himself.
Over a few months, thanks to the hard work and vision of many people involved, the Valley Fields changed from land that, according to one source, the City couldn’t even give away for free to a well-developed community space that benefits Milwaukee Public Schools and local youth soccer.
Courtesy of: OnMilwaukee.com