Helping kids is the go-o-o-oal! | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Helping kids is the go-o-o-oal!

BY CHRIS MCGINNIS  |  I’m a board member of Downtown United Soccer Club. We want to thank The Villager for recently highlighting some of our programs at Pier 40 and J.J. Walker Field (“DUSC program kicks youth soccer movement up a notch,” sports article, Nov. 28).

Our volunteer-directed 501(c)(3) nonprofit has been fortunate to be part of a vibrant Lower West Side community that has made children’s issues like sports a priority. We believe in sharing our local community resources, such as the Hudson River Park, which includes Pier 40, and Parks Department facilities, like J.J. Walker, with all of the city’s constituents. This makes for healthy and vibrant parks.

We support our baseball players, basketball players, bench sitters, bikers, boaters, dog runners, footballers, joggers, nature lovers, skateboarders, sunbathers, rugby players, tennis players, walkers  and water lovers, to name a few.

Our focus and that of our children’s sports brethren in the Pier 40 Partnership (Downtown Little League, Downtown Soccer League, Giants Football, Gotham Girls F.C., Greenwich Village Little League and Xavier High School) has been on children’s team sports. This comes down to making sure that fields that we have access to are saved, and new fields are created.

Resonating with the children and the families of our growing community, our league has grown, as have our brother and sister organizations. DUSC also believes in giving back to the greater community. Many members of our late-afternoon, nighttime and weekend coaching staff have given their time to work during the day with underserved schools in Chinatown, Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen and other parts of the city.

As these schools’ athletic programs were shut down, our coaches reached out to offer to teach the children what they know — soccer. This spirit and approach is now reaching out across the country to other underserved areas. It’s part of a worldwide movement.

Our academy, camps, recreation and travel programs are designed to offer the greatest value to neighborhood parents. For those who can’t afford our programs, we offer scholarships. For teens who need jobs, we offer work in our camps and as  referees in our games.

When our local public parks needed soccer goals, we provided them for anyone to use. When Hudson River Park needed a new indoor field surface, we worked with local politicians to get the funding.

When it comes to the children of our city, our country and our world, we are focused on creating contexts for them to play.

We want to thank all the members of our community for everything they do to help our city’s children thrive.

McGinnis is a board member, Downtown United Soccer Club (