PROJECT BLACKTOP, A NEW INITIATIVE FROM OPERATION PITCH INVASION, IMPROVES SCHOOLYARDS TO ENCOURAGE NEW GENERATIONS OF AMERICAN SOCCER PLAYERS
PORTLAND, Ore. – .
OPERATION PITCH INVASION is proud to announce PROJECT BLACKTOP, a low-cost, high-impact program that brings the beautiful game to surfaces to schoolyards, putting soccer alongside basketball, kickball, and foursquare in communities everywhere.
With this new initiative, now up and running in four Portland-area locations, OPI has created ways to build soccer spaces for kids at a scalable variety of prices and is preparing to share its knowledge and experience with fans throughout the nation to help them grow the game in their towns.
PROJECT BLACKTOP takes an existing rectangle of schoolyard blacktop, spruces it up with a fresh coat of paint, applies lines for soccer, and installs removable goals, creating an attractive and flexible surface for futsal, a version of soccer played on hardtop courts indoors and outdoors all around the world. It's a quick, low-cost project that causes little-to-no disruption to the surrounding area.
PROJECT BLACKTOP began in 2015 with a proof-of-concept court at Col. Summers Park in Southeast Portland. In 2016, it expanded to three Portland-area elementary schools: Arleta School and Lent School in Southeast Portland and Astor School in North Portland. All of these courts are in regular use, keeping area kids active and creating positive gathering spaces in their communities. The courts are used by kids during and after school and, in many cases, by adult players during evenings and weekends. OPI intends to continue spreading PROJECT BLACKTOP annually, with new courts in new locations throughout the Portland area.
PROJECT BLACKTOP is the newest effort in OPI's campaign to marshal the strength and effort of soccer fans to foster new generations of American players. It joins OPI's longstanding commitment to volunteer work in Portland-area parks and schoolyards; its creation of BLESS FIELD, an all-weather turf surface in North Portland; and its collaboration with the Portland Timbers on FIELDS FOR ALL, a program that builds high-quality futsal courts in 'recreation deserts' and has created SNAKE COURT, KING COURT, and other projects currently in development.
After seven years of work, learning, and experience, OPI has built seven new fields and courts in the Portland area and has maintained and improved fields in dozens of parks and schoolyards. In that time, OPI has amassed a veritable encyclopedia of know-how, from conceiving and siting projects to funding them and building them. It is currently distilling that knowledge into a form that can be shared with fans everywhere, giving them the tools to enhance soccer-playing opportunities in their communities, to fill 'recreation deserts' in their towns, and to create a culture of soccer that will result in the emergence of new generations of American players. It is currently seeking sponsorship to help realize the vision of OPI affiliates powered by soccer fans coast-to-coast.
OPERATION PITCH INVASION is dedicated to:
HEALTH: Creating safe, attractive, quality surfaces to get kids active in soccer play
ACCESS: Filling "recreation deserts"—areas under-served with athletic facilities—with new play spaces
TALENT: Creating new generations of American soccer players from kids who grow up playing the sport in their own neighborhoods
COMMUNITY: Giving American soccer fans a way to spread their love of the game at the grassroots level in their own towns
OPI was created in 2010 by the 107 INDEPENDENT SUPPORTERS TRUST as a local, grassroots organization dedicated to building, revitalizing, and maintaining soccer fields throughout the Portland metro area so that players of all ages and skill levels could have access to high quality and safe playing surfaces. It is an Oregon public benefit nonmember, nonprofit corporation exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information, visit www.pitch-invasion.org.
Board Member, Operation Pitch Invasion