SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Frank Gurnick smiles big when he thinks about the future of soccer in Sioux Falls.
Standing on a brand new mini soccer pitch that has replaced a former tennis court across the street from the Terrace Park swimming pool, the Dakota Alliance Director of Soccer Operations said the two mini soccer pitches have met every inch of his expectations.
“We’ve really tried to create soccer for all,” Gurnick told KELOLAND News. “We’ve gotten to a point with our programming that we know there’s a population of kids out there who don’t have access to transportation or the ability to come to us to be able to play soccer.”
The hope with the new mini soccer pitches is to bring the global sport to more Sioux Falls neighborhoods.
The two mini soccer pitches are now open to the public and all that is needed is a soccer ball. The two courts are outlined by metal framing complete with chain link nets for goals. Both mini soccer pitches are surrounded by a chain link fence that offer space for spectators. Unlike the 11 vs. 11 on a big soccer field, the mini pitches are typically used for games of 4-on-4 with goalies.
You can see photos of the new soccer pitches, which the city of Sioux Falls will unveil in a grand opening ceremony Monday afternoon, in the photos below.
The mini soccer pitches were designed and built by Musco in a collaboration with the U.S. Soccer Foundation. It’s part of a national strategy by U.S. Soccer to offer more grassroots opportunities to play the sport of soccer. According to a map of mini soccer pitches, the mini pitches at Terrace Park are the first in the state of South Dakota.
“Pay to play is something that we have been fighting tooth and nail,” Gurnick said. “We’re trying to create opportunities for anybody who doesn’t necessarily have the disposable cash for a club sport, but has the opportunity to be able to come out here and participate.”
Gurnick said the two mini soccer pitches cost around $170,000 to $185,000. The city council approved an ordinance to accept an anonymous $100,000 donation for the mini soccer pitches in May.
More mini soccer pitches to come
The mini soccer pitches are a partnership between Dakota Alliance, the Sioux Falls Neighborhood Soccer League and the city of Sioux Falls. Last year, the Sioux Falls Neighborhood Soccer League had more than 500 students from six elementary schools – Lowell, Terry Redlin, Hayward, Laura B. Anderson, Garfield and Cleveland.
Gurnick said he noticed many city parks have public basketball courts and tennis courts that aren’t supported by some neighborhoods. He believes city parks like Pioneer Park, Drake Springs, Menlo Park, Meldrum Park, Emerson Park and Tomar Park could all support future mini soccer pitches.
For now, the fit in the space once used for tennis courts at Nusier Salem Field at Terrace Park was just too perfect not to be the first city location.
“It only took them two and a half days to assemble,” Gurnick said about the Musco crew that helped build the soccer pitch. “Our goal is at some point to be able to have these many pitches in upwards of eight to 10 different parks around the city.”
Gurnick said he could see a system where different neighborhood parks compete for a city championship. He said he hopes Dakota Alliance can help organize some programming with the new soccer pitches, but noted the biggest benefit of having the pitches are the unorganized games that can be played.