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Building the Game: The Atlanta United Foundation to build 100 mini-pitches across Georgia by 2026

GA 100 Campaign to spread soccer across Georgia

The Atlanta United Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation have announced a joint venture to build up to 100 mini-pitches across the state of Georgia before the 2026 World Cup. The GA 100 Campaign will be run by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation with the initial backing of a $1.5 million grant from the Atlanta United Foundation to build the first 20 of these new pitches.

“One of the main goals of the Atlanta United Foundation is to bring soccer to communities that have no access to the sport,” said Rodrigo Rios, Atlanta United Academy Coach and Associate Committee Member, The Atlanta United Foundation. “The GA 100 project allows us to create soccer-specific spaces where entire communities, from young kids to adults, from different walks of life, can enjoy the benefits of playing soccer. We are really happy to be part of a project that will include more people across the state in the sport.”

LISC will oversee the application and development process that will identify potential local, nonprofit, and community-based groups looking to restore or build new mini-pitch fields in community spaces. Schools, neighborhood parks, and other public spaces will be targeted for rejuvenation in order to bring access to safe and quality athletic facilities to Georgia’s underserved communities. LISC will partner will these local organizations to finance, construct, and maintain these new fields along with assisting in programming to launch new grassroots soccer programs.

The first four partners in this initiative were announced at the launch. Cherokee Youth Foundation of Cherokee County, Coastal Outreach Soccer of Brunswick, Bainbridge Decatur County Recreation Authority, and Sweetwater Mission of South Cobb will receive the first round of funding to begin work on their fields.

Cherokee Youth Foundation will convert Harmon Field Park into a mini-pitch to increase the use of the park by local residents. Along with serving as a soccer pitch, this space will also host special events and community activities throughout the year as part of the foundation’s mission to promote character-building activities and opportunities in sports for local residents.

Coastal Outreach Soccer will restore part of Howard Coffin Park in Brunswick, Georgia that has not been in use due to safety and structural concerns. This reopened corner of the park will now feature a new futsal court. Coastal Outreach Soccer serves over 200 student athletes in the Brunswick and Glynn County area so this will open up more recreation spaces for them.

The Bainbridge Decatur County Recreation Authority will convert four baseball fields at the Bill Reynolds Sports Complex into a soccer pitch featuring several new mini-pitches. Over 200 local youth and adults will use the new fields for school leagues, youth leagues, and other competitive local leagues.

Sweetwater Mission seeks to develop part of South Cobb Pocket Park into a multi-generational space with a new mini-pitch at its heart. Building a community space fits their larger mission of helping families find stability through access to food, clothing, education and support services to neighbors in need. Sweetwater Mission projects this new space to serve over 1000 youths and adults.

This is part of a larger initiative by Atlanta United to build and develop the grassroots infrastructure of the game across the state and to give back to Atlantans and Georgians from all communities.

The Soccer in the Streets StationSoccer Project may have been the pilot run for such a program as Atlanta United and the city seek to link the various communities throughout Atlanta in the shared love of the Beautiful Game. That larger initiative coupled with the 2017 Next Great Pitch set the tone for community involvement by the club.

Phase 2 of GA 100 is now open and will include grants for 16 mini-pitches for Georgia communities. Community organizations, schools, and parks and recreation departments across the state are eligible for grants of up to $75,000 with a required minimum community local match of one dollar for every GA 100 dollar (1:1) up to $75,000.

If you or your organization are interested in applying to be part of this program, visit the Georgia 100 site to check on eligibility and the application process. The application process will run through April 21 of next year.