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Celebrating 50 Years of ASA: Safe Places to Play

Leading up to the Golden Gala—ASA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on March 26, 2022—we are sharing interesting historical facts about the history of ASA. Check in each week to learn about the history of the club, what the early years looked like, who was involved and much more! [Here are the first weeks in case you missed them; week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4].

Over the past few decades there have been a variety of studies that have reported that safe places to play, both indoors and outdoors (fields, courts, gymnasiums, community centers, playgrounds), help keep kids active and healthy. In a perfect world, every family has a walkable play space within blocks of their home, removing transportation barriers.

Over the past decade ASA has worked with ACPS and RPCA to develop additional safe play spaces around Alexandria City. With the ever growing population of youth soccer and futsal players in Alexandria (and the country) we know how important it is to develop play spaces that have quality equipment (goals, all weather surfaces, fencing, etc) for the community, schools and organizations to use. Check out RPCA’s interactive park map here to see ALL parks in Alexandria.

We’ve been particularly focused on developing and improving soccer fields (turf and grass) and multi-use futsal courts around the city over the past eight years.

Rectangular fields around Alexandria City combined with a DASH Bus map.

In 2013, with input from ASA on field sizing, the City developed the Witter Field Complex (or as we lovingly refer to it, “the fabled Witter Training Grounds”). As one of our premium “home fields” we have committed to ensuring the fields are equipped with eight small sided and four full sized goals to ensure we can maximize the benefit of the space. As of this winter we are excited to announce that 30 foot tall fencing will soon be added to the perimeter of the field to help with errant balls sailing towards the train tracks and road. We are excited to partner with the City in getting the fencing installed in Spring 2022.

“The fabled Witter Training Grounds.”

Since 2017 ASA and RPCA have collaborated with both ACPS and the US Soccer Foundation to develop 10 multi-use futsal courts around Alexandria. We are proud to note that these courts are located in different neighborhoods all around the city allowing many different groups of kids to have access to play spaces.

Outdoor futsal courts at James K. Polk Elementary.

The courts are located at; Four Mile Run, Powhatan Park, William Ramsay (three courts), James K. Polk Elementary School (two courts), John Adams Rec Center, and Hammond Middle School (two courts). When all ASA programming was moved outdoors last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were fortunate to have many outdoor futsal courts to utilize for the hybrid outdoor futsal season.

While we are thrilled with the developments over the past several years we are more committed than ever to creatively exploring and developing spaces to play. In the strategic planning survey we conducted last year 54% of respondents said they thought limited access to play space would be a major issue for ASA in the next 3-5 years. In response, 72% of respondents said that investing in facilities (turf, lighting, indoor space) is a possible solution. ASA recently proposed a heightened partnership with the City that includes a wide range of solutions to meet the needs of the community for many years to come. As the plans develop, your energy and support will be crucial to ensure the solutions are introduced.

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