FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WDVM) — It’s been 16 years since Falls Church native Arturo Ramirez has seen a patch of grass on this small soccer field, tucked away near a park in the city.
“It’s a big deal. Growing up, we never saw it, we saw patches of grass, we didn’t even know what it looked like on a full field,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez moved away after his childhood but was surprised upon his return to see a lush green field instead of the muddy lot that was there his entire life.
“I am so glad that other generations that are now calling this home can benefit from it,” he said.
The new field is all thanks to local non-profit Communidad, an organization that works with underserved immigrant families in Falls Church.
Maralee Gutierrez , founder of the non-profit, says changing the soccer field was on the top of the community’s priority list.
“A number of the community members wanted to see grass on the soccer field. I had no idea how we would make that happen….To do something like that it would probably cost a quarter of a million dollars or more,” said Gutierrez.
Parents and players came to the rescue, chipping in to raise $433. Partnering with the county, the local dads volunteered to seed the field, and the aspiring soccer stars held their first game this past week.
“We had a ribbon cutting ceremony this week and it was just so encouraging to see the smiles and the joy from all the children and our youth,” said Gutierrez.
The kids are grateful to have finally traded in their muddy cleats.
“Before, it was just all dirt and it was just hard to play, because you would get so dirty…Although the ground isn’t completely even, it’s still a field, and that’s enough to appreciate the sport,” said soccer player Marco Bensio.
The field is being put to good use. Since the ribbon cutting on Wednesday, the children have already played three games.