A new youth soccer program is under formation in Mattapan— a neighborhood that organizers say is primed to embrace the sport on a beautiful new playing field at Almont Park. Carolyn MacNeil, one of the founders of Mattapan Youth Soccer, says the league will begin with indoor play this winter. The soccer league will take advantage of the new turf field at Almont this coming spring.
“We have to share the field with the Mattapan Patriots Pop Warner team, which has full use of the field in the fall, which is fine. A lot of people run soccer in the spring,” MacNeil said.
According to Boston Parks and Recreation Spokesperson Ryan Woods, renovations to Almont Park are still taking place and will include a new tennis court, basketball court, and a little league field.
“We just opened the turf field this fall for the Mattapan Patriots league,” said Woods. “We want to make sure that this beautiful field is being used and one thing that’s lacking is soccer in Mattapan.”
MacNeil said she and co-founder Caroline Foscato were encouraged by Boston Parks and Recreation Commissioner Chris Cook to create a soccer program. They also received support from community members and elected officials including city councillors Charles Yancey, Tim McCarthy and State Rep. Dan Cullinane and State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry.
“This was spurred by the fact that the Boston Parks Department just redid Almont Park. When the city overhauled that they put in a beautiful turf field. It begged to be a necessity really. The renovation happened over the last year, so the timing was perfect,” said MacNeil.
Seven years ago, MacNeil and Foscato began their own soccer league for youth in the South End, Roxbury, and Chinatown with the creation of the nonprofit South End Soccer.
“The program that we run in the South End is free, it’s inclusive, and well respected – and that’s in seven years,” said MacNiel.
The Mattapan Youth Soccer league will operate in a similar fashion, and will be supported by Global Premier Soccer, a Waltham-based nonprofit organization that provides coaching and support to soccer programs on the east coast.
“We’ll provide coaching and week-by-week curriculum support for six weeks,” said Premier Team Director Andy Prosser from Global Premier Soccer.
McNeil and Foscato want parents and community members to be involved by signing up their kids or volunteering their time to administrative needs or coaching for Mattapan Youth Soccer – particularly for the spring season.
“We want this to become a community-based rec[reation] league,” said MacNeil. “We want to see where the interest is so we want people to register for the spring program in the winter.”
Registrations will be held at the Mildred Avenue Community Center on Dec. 6 between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the spring season.
In addition to Global Premier Soccer offering their services, MacNeil would like to see adults in the community volunteer.
The league is set to run from April to June and registration forms will be available in English and Haitian Creole. Children between the ages of five and 10 can sign up.
MacNeil said kids in the South End Soccer league are children who would have never been able to afford to be a part of “a travel play and competitive” league. The program has provided them with sportsmanship skills – something she thinks kids in Mattapan can benefit from.
“An opportunity for kids creates a level playing field,” she said. “If you keep kids busy it keeps them out of trouble.”