(Friday, September 6th) Valeo Inti was in attendance, alongside our partners Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and YWCA New Hampshire, for the unveiling of a new mini pitch built in Sheehan-Basquil Park in downtown Manchester, NH. The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the 25th mini pitch that SNHU, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) have opened in the United States. The mini pitch will host small sided soccer games and provide a safe place for kids to play after school. The idea behind this initiative was to create a beautiful facility that can serve as a gathering point for members of the Manchester community.
Part of our mission at Valeo is to provide opportunities for youth to participate in sports regardless of their socioeconomic background or the neighborhood they live in. Before the unveiling of the mini pitch their were very few opportunities for kids to play soccer in this particular neighborhood. The kids we serve at Valeo Inti, most of whom are recent immigrants or refugees, are unable to join pay-to-pay clubs due to financial constraints and transportation limitations. Now the kids will have a new, safe space to play and train. The field itself is 50 x 100 feet and equipped with lighting, fencing, storage, and bleachers.
Our mission at Valeo Inti is to serve the underprivileged youth of Manchester with a soccer academy and educational support services. 36% of Manchester’s school age children are economically disadvantaged. The city has a higher high school dropout rate, 20%, than the state of New Hampshire, 11%. Manchester’s inner city youths have little to do after school and during the summer due to the lack of accessible extracurricular activities. Valeo Inti provides young people in the Manchester community a structured environment where they can seek personal development opportunities through the lens of soccer. We help our participants reach fluency in the English language and provide them with free meals. The program is completely free for its participants and is open to all, regardless of their race, sex, ethnicity, and religion. We use soccer as a rallying point to bring people together as teammates, to foster friendships between diﬀerent communities, practice english, and to assimilate better into American culture.
The mini-pitch is one of, what we hope will be, many new initiatives that can bring hope and joy to the vibrant community of Manchester. There are plans in motion to open a second mini pitch on Manchester’s west side. We look forward to witnessing firsthand the benefits that the new mini-pitch will bring to the city of Manchester and the children of Valeo Inti.