Plan to put 10 soccer fields at MARTA stations keeps kicking

The dream to build mini soccer fields on unused space at 10 MARTA stops is getting closer to reality.

Crews broke ground on the third field, this one at the East Point stop, on Thursday.

Soccer in the Streets is leading the charge, with funding from the Atlanta United Foundation (the charitable arm of the city’s champion professional soccer team), the city of Atlanta and others. In almost all cases, MARTA donates the land.

Phil Hill, executive director of Soccer in the Streets, said the East Point location cost $165,000 to build.

“One of the biggest challenges underserved kids face ... is the ability to find transportation to participate,” Hill said.

Once up and running in a few months, East Point United FC will be ready for training right off Main Street.

READHow a MARTA wasteland became a soccer lover's dream

“This is a milestone moment that will bring vibrant activity to our downtown,” Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham said in a news release.

Hill, who grew up in Southampton outside London playing pickup soccer, said the fields are about the size of basketball courts. He and others say this is the first such transit soccer system in the world.

Credit: Courtesy of Station Soccer

Credit: Courtesy of Station Soccer

The first field opened in the fall of 2016 at MARTA's Five Points station. The first day the West End stop opened in the fall of 2018, Hill said 200 children signed up to join the league.

Other MARTA stops where Hill expects to build fields are: East Lake, H.E. Holmes, Bankhead, Lindbergh, Kensington, Doraville and Civic Center.

Hill said the dream is to have all 10 neighborhood youth soccer clubs in a league dubbed “The League of Stations.”

He said current youth soccer clubs are “almost like country club soccer where it costs thousands of dollars to play.”

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Their goal is beyond soccer; Hill said financial literacy is the driving force.

At the West United FC, he said they have found part-time work for 63 children. It has grown so large, he said, that MARTA donated decommissioned train cars that are being redesigned into classrooms that will be at the station.

“These (are) villages we’re building around transportation hubs,” Hill said. “Each of these villages will connect with the other villages via transit.”

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From before the West End opening...