ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Meadow Park Initiative kicked off a new soccer program Wednesday night.
The new program is organized by local residents and nearly 40 players have signed up so far to practice volunteer coaches who represent the largest cultural groups in the neighborhood, Somali and Latino.
Teams for both boys and girls are organized by age group. Play is scheduled for five nights a week.
The neighborhood is home to many children and youth, but green space is limited. While many kids like to kick a soccer ball around at a local after school program, Friendship Place, the property isn’t ideal for practicing the sport. That’s where Hope Summit Church stepped up and agreed to convert some seldom-used yard space into a soccer field.
“Right now what we’ve done is we’ve started with this soccer initiate. And whats exciting about this soccer initiative is that we are really bringing some cross cultural groups together to build relationships and I think that creates a great foundation for this effort,” Family Service Rochester Executive Director Scott Maloney said.
The soccer program is just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Neighborhood residents have been working with local agencies in a coordinated effort to identify and take action on neighborhood priorities.
The effort, which residents have named the “Meadow Park Initiative,” is a partnership between the neighborhood, Family Service Rochester, Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, and United Way of Olmsted County.
“In the past, generally organization would receive funding and then they would go out and deliver the service,” IMAA Co-Executive Director Armin Budimlic said. “Now, we are turning that up side down. We are coming first to the community, we are creating relationships, we are listening to them and then we are assisting them in finding solutions that would work for their community.”
The goal is to listen to the community members and help them in any way possible.