October 18, 2012
Flames aid in Haas Park project
CHICAGO –In conjunction with the “City Soccer in the Community” initiative, the UIC men’s soccer team participated in the official dedication of a new soccer field at Haas Park on Chicago’s northwest side.
The new field is the result of contributions from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the United States and Manchester City Football Club. Built in partnership with the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation's "Take the Field Initiative" and the Chicago Park District, the field will benefit all of Logan Square.
The dedication ceremony was held at the new field last Thursday, Oct. 11. Head coach Sean Phillips and many of the Flames’ players were in attendance helping with the project.
“I truly believe that UIC’s program played a large role in getting us from point A to point B,” said Anthony Porfirio, president of the Haas Park Advisory Council. “Coach Phillips has already offered his help and assistance whenever we may need it. He’s also toyed with the idea of having a few UIC practices out at the field, so kids can actually see high-level soccer right in their backyard. It’s an unbelievable reflection on his program and their commitment to give back to the community.”
Porfirio had been planning on presenting a proposal to City Soccer in an effort to have a new field constructed in Haas Park. One of the many variables was proving to the organization and its supporting groups that the city of Chicago was a “soccer community,” and that there was a glaring need for more facilities in which to play.
In March, Porfirio quickly coordinated a soccer clinic in an effort to further prove the value of youth soccer in the Haas Park neighborhood. He hired the outside vendor ‘We Got Game’ to organize the event, but as the amount of kids in attendance quickly grew, it became apparent that extra help would be needed.
“In just two weeks notice, we ended up having an insane turnout (at the clinic in March), and once I saw what was going on, I realized that we needed extra help,” said Porfirio. “UIC’s program was first to step up. I thought it was an unbelievable reflection on Coach Phillips and his players, because those guys knew how to relate to those kids. It was very apparent that they had done something like this before. They had to jump in on the instruction, because there were only three people in attendance from ‘We Got Game’ and we had 90-plus kids out on the field taking part in these drills.
“We shot hundreds of photos and also put together a video compilation. It was one of the most important pieces of our presentation, and turned out to be one of the major contributing factors that showed us to be a soccer community. It helped us get to the point of the proposal (of the new field in Haas Park) being accepted.”
The proposal for the field was accepted, and as mentioned, the dedication was held last week. Phillips and select members of his team were again in attendance, another gesture that was noted by Porfirio.
“Our program felt privileged to help out with this initiative, both in March at the clinic and last week at the dedication of the field,” said Phillips. “It was a new neighborhood that we were able to reach out to, and it’s also the neighborhood in which I live; so I knew how important and valuable this project was. It also showed our players, some of whom participated in both the clinic and the presentation, how big of a role they can play in growing the game in this region. They were able to see how a simple clinic in March can turn into a global event on a local scale. It was a tremendous event, and we look forward to working with all of these organizations in the future.”