CLIVE, Iowa – Before it was even finished, kids in the Linnan Park area – and there are a lot of them -were playing on a new mini soccer pitch in their neighborhood. It is the seventh of ten mini pitch installations planned across Iowa this summer. The Clive location officially opens with a block party Saturday, June 12 from 11 AM to 2 PM.
Hosted by USL Pro Iowa, Kick It Forward, Des Moines Menace, Des Moines United FC, radio station La Q Buena and the City of Clive, Saturday’s event will feature food trucks, bounce houses, free face painting, balloon animals and – at noon – the locations of the final three mini pitches will be revealed.
USL Pro Iowa spokesperson Charlie Bales says the mini pitch initiative is one way the organization is working to make sure Iowans have exposure to soccer and Iowa kids have a safe place to bring a ball and play. Partners Musco Lighting and Kick It Forward have built mini pitches in Des Moines, Lamoni, Pleasant Hill, Council Bluffs, Sioux City and Perry.
Bales says Saturday will be a celebration of soccer that continues from Linnan Park to Valley Stadium for a pair of matches featuring local teams Des Moines United FC, a new team playing in the UPSL followed by the Des Moines Menace. The Menace are unbeaten so far this season and haven’t lost a regular season match since 2017.
The pitches are designed by MUSCO and feature lighting controlled by an app so play can continue after the sun goes down. Sized and marked as a ‘futsal field’, the smooth surface can be used as an adaptive venue as well. Like existing basketball and tennis courts in park,s the mini pitches will be free for users.
When I visited the Clive pitch in the evening there was a nonstop game with over 20 players of various age, size and ability. Some playing barefoot, some in socks and a few wearing shoes. Bales points out this type of gathering is the point of the project. The bonus is this play develops skills without a structured practice, skills that transfer to a grass field.