Brooklyn soccers stars-in-the-making competed on Sunday in a soccer match hosted by local nonprofits Seeds in the Middle and Rooklyn International Football Association at the Hamilton Metz Field in Crown Heights.
Local children from all cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds gathered to engage with each other peacefully and playfully through soccer. Crown Heights kids played against Rooklyn’s team, a Downtown Brooklyn troupe.
“We celebrate the richness brought to the city and beyond by immigrants and people from all walks of life and backgrounds, said Nancie Katz, executive director of Seeds in the Middle. “What we love about the tournament is that all the community can take part — we pull in people from very diverse backgrounds, from many continents and religions. We love bringing them together.”
Seeds in the Middle and Rooklyn International Football Association are two Brooklyn nonprofits dedicated to empowering children and youth in low-income areas. Seeds in the Middle is focused on promoting health, nutrition and physical well-being through a variety of programs and initiatives in Central Brooklyn, an area that has some of the city’s highest rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease. The organization also provides arts and cultural enrichment programming, parent and community empowerment support services, as well as community gardening to promote healthy food choices.
“Crown Heights is one of three NYC neighborhoods with the highest diabetes, obesity and heart disease rates,” said Katz. “Those dismal statistics are tied to the lack of affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables and opportunities for children to be physically active.”
Rooklyn International Football Association provides a safe space for immigrant and refugee youth through sport and mentorship to develop their soccer, language and leadership skills.
“Sport can be a powerful tool to build bridges of understanding and unity across communities,” stated Rooklyn International Football Club. “We use soccer with the goal of transcending religion, race, gender, socio-economic status, immigration status and any other factor that commonly divides us.”
On Sunday, everybody ended up being a winner — Rooklyn gave out free soccer balls to all participants.
In addition to hosting several kids tournaments throughout the year, Seeds in the Middle also has launched the Harmony Tournaments for adult soccer players.
“It’s a way to build community in a neighborhood that has had tensions in the past and present,” said Katz. “We host these tournaments to show the community that sports for kids can be affordable and fun. We are trying to build a grassroots soccer league and basketball league by and for the community, supported by wonderful volunteers from all over the city and beyond.”
This Saturday, Seeds in the Middle is hosting Tastes of Gowanus, a food-and-drink crawl to benefit the nonprofit’s low-cost and free soccer and basketball programs. Culinary creations and beverages will be provided by a host of small businesses and food entrepreneurs from around the borough. For details and tickets, go here.
“The Tastes of Brooklyn series promotes local culinary talent along with supporting youth in underserved Brooklyn’s food deserts, so they can create healthy places to live and learn,” said Katz.