The Houston soccer landscape will evolve over the next five years through a program that will bring 15 mini-pitches to Space City.
The project is led by Dynamo minority owners Jake Silverstein and Ben Guill, who recently announced their initiative in conjunction with U.S. Soccer. Former Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley will play a large role in the planning and roll-out for the mini-pitches, and he and Guill recently joined John Granato and Raheel Ramzanali on ESPN 97.5 to address the future of the program.
“The idea started with Ben and Jake. They came to me and asked me what I thought about this idea – about creating mini-pitches around Houston. It was a no-brainer for me. I’m 100 percent with the youth in soccer. That is where the future is, with the youth,” Beasley said. “To be able to be a part of this program and to have this project here in Houston – it means a lot. To have their support, from the Houston Dynamo, the Dash and a lot of people around Houston, it’s a no-brainer to start these pitches.”
The idea originated with Silverstein, who has worked with U.S. Soccer to build several mini-pitches in his hometown of Portland and has seen first-hand the benefits that they can provide to communities. Guill, who sits on the Houston 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid Committee, shared that his hope for the program was to expand the Dynamo’s reach in the community.
“Even without the World Cup coming up, Jake Silverstein – who is very involved with U.S. Soccer in Portland and has built some of these mini-pitches – and he and I decided it is the right thing to do,” Guill said on ESPN 97.5. “It is the right thing to bring this game to parts of the city that don’t have the opportunity to play in a safe environment.”
The location of the mini-pitches will be finalized shortly and will be only the first step of a project that is designed to provide access to soccer, which has seen different barriers in the U.S. Programming and additional resources will follow the construction of the mini-pitches and for Beasley – he looks forward to shaping programming that may lead to new talent filtered to the Dynamo Academy.
This project resonated with Beasley as the four-time FIFA World Cup veteran has shifted his focus to the youth game after his retirement.
“Soccer is growing, obviously soccer is the fastest growing sport in America and Houston is a big chunk of that. We are here to help. Soccer is free. We want kids to get off their iPads and iPhones and enjoy the beautiful game of soccer. That’s what it is about,” Beasley said. “It’s about going out and getting some of your friends and playing a pick-up soccer game, like they do basketball, baseball or any other sport. This is something that we want to improve in the United States – not just Houston. Since some of the mini-pitches that Jake (Silverstein) has in Portland, myself in my hometown – these programs are going to help the future of soccer in the U.S. This is going to be great for the Dynamo and the Dash, but in the bigger picture for U.S. Soccer and as a whole – as a country, this is going to be a great thing to have.”