Giving Football Back To Sacramento

Giving Football Back To Sacramento

A first of its kind collaboration celebrates the city’s love for the beautiful game

“All are welcome...make the game your own.”

That is the sign that greets you when setting foot on the newly opened futsal courts at the Del Paso Heights Sports Complex in Sacramento. It’s a simple sign, but part of the mission statement at Republic FC.

The new courts in North Sacramento mark the third set of futsal courts built or refurbished by Sacramento Republic FC and its partners in the past three years. To officially open the courts, the club hosted a free soccer clinic for 40 local youth. At every camp and clinic, Republic FC provides players with a ball to take home. This time together with PARK, players now have a new futsal ball for them to sharpen their skills with.

The futsal balls were created as part of a new, unique impact partnership between PARK and Republic FC aimed at connecting the club’s Indomitable Fans and PARK’s Pass-a-ball Project. For every co-branded futsal ball purchased by fans and the club, PARK will pass one on to a kid in need. To date, over 10,000 balls have been passed in over 36 countries through the Pass-a-ball project. This marks the first time that PARK is working directly with an individual football club.

As part of the partnership, PARK and Republic FC have also collaborated on a collection that includes a futsal ball, as well as a standard ball (sizes 3-5), scarf, flag, socks, and a sticker pack. Not only does this capsule look and feel different to anything that the club has put out before, it’s eco-friendly too. The futsal balls are carbon negative, with each ball produced removing five kilograms of carbon dioxide from the environment.

We sat down with Republic FC’s Director of Community Investment – Kevin Burdick – to delve into the collaboration further.

What does football in Sacramento mean?

Sacramento has always been a football city.

Before SRFC played its first match in 2014 in front of over 20,000 passionate fans, Sacramento had always been passionate about football. From the local pubs that open at 4am for Premier League mornings to packed watch parties for the World Cup and European Championships, there has always been a love of the game in the city.

Growing up in Sunny California also helps! We have over 300 days of sunshine which helps for the development of youth leagues and tournaments. There are not many children who grow up in this area without at least trying to play a season of football.

Regenerating futsal pitches brings together everything we care about here at PARK - football, people and planet. Why is a regeneration project like this important to SRFC?

A couple of years ago, there was only 1 public futsal court in Sacramento! For context, there are 223 public parks according to our city park directory. So in 2019, we set our sights on our first build – a completely run down tennis court. Weeds were growing through the asphalt and had become so long that they had reclaimed the nets. It was here where we opened our first set of two futsal courts later that Fall.

Fast forward to today, we have just opened our 8th futsal court in three years, all in underserved communities. At SRFC, we want to grow the game we love by providing equitable access to futsal pitches around town.

The project is also participatory in nature. Why is it important that these regenerated futsal pitches are returned to and managed by the people?

The biggest disservice we could do is build a beautiful set of futsal pitches and say “yay look what we did, have fun!” There has to be intent in these projects; to not only provide access to play, but also create sustainable programming and community ownership.

Why did SRFC want PARK to be a part of this project?

We were absolutely thrilled to partner with PARK on this project because we have such similar missions – to help young people in need through football. At SRFC, we believe that we have a duty to support our community that gives us so much. Being able to partner with PARK – a brand that creates change on a global scale – is a real thrill!

What are you hoping this partnership with PARK does for the broader community?

Getting a light shone on our work – while simultaneously showcasing PARK’s amazing work around the world – has so many benefits in the broader community. There is nothing more fulfilling than driving by one of our pitches and seeing young and old participating in the game that we love.

The Pass-a-ball project also shows our fans that they can be a part of wider change and create immediate impact. We hope this partnership acts as a conversation starter around worldwide inequities and inspires them to make a difference as well.

How do you think football can change the world?

Football can definitely change the world.

PARK’s mission is founded on this statement and it reflects what SRFC believes in. Sometimes it can be as simple as giving a new ball to a young person. Maybe it is as complex as constructing new play spaces around the city to give a new place to play.

There is a lot of work to be done but showing our fans that they can help in Sacramento, and around the world, is nothing short of amazing.

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