Children laughed and music echoed up and down 37th Avenue on Thursday afternoon as an entire community celebrated the unveiling of the first public futsal courts in Sacramento.
The brand new futsal courts are free to the public.
A previously desolate and abandoned tennis court surface, directly across the street from the once-shuttered Maple Elementary School, was brought back to life by Bank of America and Republic FC as a gift to the neighborhood.
However, none of it would have been possible without the support of Councilmember Jay Schenirer, the Sacramento City Unified School District, and the La Familia Counseling Center.
As the afternoon rolled along, the kids didn't have any intention of ending all the futsal fun.
“We’re beyond excited to help support this and really enliven the community, and introduce some kids to futsal who have never played before,” said Bank of America Business and Community Engagement SVP Lori Rianda.
“This day is an important day for Sacramento, for the neighborhood, and the kids. We’re seeing these kids out here having a great time, on a property they haven’t been able to play on in years.”
Republic FC President & COO Ben Gumpert got in on the fun and fearlessly stepped in goal against the excited youngsters.
The playing surface, once covered in weeds, now covered in a striking shade of Old Glory Red asphalt, has transformed from two blistered and unused tennis courts into a pair of pristine futsal courts available for free to the public. Just like the school across the street, which too has transformed and blossomed into the Maple Neighborhood Center where La Familia runs programs out of, the community is starting to get the love and attention it deserves.
Especially for the kids.
“Our neighborhood really needs a good hug,” mental health administrator for La Familia Counseling Center Dr. Cesar Castaneda said. “It was a really special day to be able to bring soccer here to our neighborhood."
"In this area, we have a lot of kids who now can play such great healthy activities and when the kids are healthy, we get to work with their mental, emotional and social health. And this is a great complement.”
Republic FC winger Villyan Bijev stopped by to play a game with the future futsal stars of Sacramento.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, a handful of youngsters who spend time at the Maple Neighborhood Center had the privilege of testing out the brand new courts with a mini-camp as part of a partnership with La Familia and SRFC. Even former MLS defender and current Republic FC general manager Todd Dunivant couldn’t resist getting in on the action.
“The new courts make it so inviting to play, and the kids were having a blast out there” Dunivant said. “We may have seen our next academy stars on display!”
Republic FC general manager Todd Dunivant looked right at home with the ball at his feet.
The futsal courts themselves, available to all ages, were revitalized with the intention of bringing healthy, safe places to play and gather. Both courts have lighting for evening action and are located directly across the street from the Maple Neighborhood Center at 3301 37th Avenue.
Futsal is a fast-paced, small-sided (typically five vs. five) version of soccer on a basketball-sized court and played with smaller soccer balls. The game emphasis quick-thinking, precision passing and sharp technical skills, similarly to that of the world’s beautiful game.
A good time was had by all..
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