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Atlanta's subway soccer fields: the 'crazy' idea breaking down barriers

April 18,2018

Source: Matthew Hall, The Guardian

Like many good stories, this one begins with a crazy idea and a bunch of naysayers. Sanjay Patel arrived in Atlanta and wondered why it was so difficult to find a game of pick-up soccer. As far as he could see, there were no spontaneous games going on in local parks. Anything he did find was super-organized, he had to drive a car to, and – how to put this politely? – white.

As it turned out, Patel wasn’t alone in this experience. Since 1989, a local non-profit called Soccer in the Streets, run by English expat Phil Hill, had bussed kids around Atlanta in rental vans so they could play games. Money and geography meant pay-to-play academies and structured teams were out of reach for many local kids.

Patel volunteered with Soccer in the Streets and, in his travels across the city, made an intriguing discovery. Atlanta’s train stations were nearly always adjacent to a giant parking lot – part of a 1970s park-and-ride policy that never really took off. The parking lots were barely used for what they were intended.

“I started thinking,” says Patel, “What if we convert some pieces of this land to soccer fields and use the train system as a network for people to get to games?”

Read the complete article at the link above.