As part of their Community Soccer Program, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) United States Embassy together with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation held a dedication ceremony on May 19, Friday morning to turn over a new soccer field to the Franklin D. Roosevelt School.
Yousef Al Otaiba (https://www.facebook.com/Yousef-Al-Otaiba-162542037255423/), UAE ambassador to the United States, launched the soccer program in 2010 as a way of giving back to underserved communities across the U.S. The Cleveland soccer field is just one of several facilities donated by the embassy through the program.
Through the Community Soccer Program, school-aged children are given a safe and modern space for soccer and other sports activities. They are also provided access to sports clinics and after school coaching opportunities as part of the initiative.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba selected the FDR school based on the prevalence of poverty among families within the area and the need to support current school programs, according to a release from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).
Also, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a key partner in the project, previously worked together with the UAE embassy for the opening of the multispecialty Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi.
As part of the turnover, the new facilities was renamed, “Glenville Community Soccer Field.” In a release, Eric Gordon, district chief executive officer, expressed appreciation for the donation, stating, “We are grateful for this generous gift.”
Gordon added in the release, “In addition to health benefits, sports help children develop resilience, teamwork, communication and other skills needed to succeed in school and life.”
He also mentioned how the new soccer field, together with FDR’s Boys & Girls Club, will further reinforce the school’s position as the core of activity in the neighborhood. Funding support from the embassy made it possible to install heat and UV resistant materials to improve the conditions of the field.
Community engagement is one of the key aspects of the program, with the ambassador and the UAE Embassy partnering with the local government and school district, city-based organizations and even globally-recognized soccer clubs to make the project happen. (http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/05/19/why-did-the-united-arab-emirates-just-donate-a-soccer-field-to-cmsd)
The Cleveland location is the 10th soccer field donated by the UAE Embassy. Since its inception, the Community Soccer Program has built sports fields in New Jersey’s Atlantic City and Asbury Park, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Washington, DC. The soccer fields in New York and New Jersey were donated as part of the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Sandy.