An idea formed two years ago is finally being made real in Marquette Park. Soon the Dutchtown neighborhood will have the first outdoor futsal court in the City of St. Louis. Back in July of 2019, local soccer enthusiast Daniel Flynn, Dutchtown neighbor and UMOJA Soccer Club founder Fred Maboneza, and members of the Allies of Marquette Park group met at the Marquette Park Recreation Center.
Flynn had experienced widely available futsal courts in Europe after spending time there. “A few years ago, I started working with the UMOJA Soccer Club,” said Flynn. “We would constantly struggle to find places to play futsal. We felt strongly that soccer should be free and accessible to all, and that could be a model in St. Louis.”
The group met up with Bill Bixon, a former Parks and Recreation programmer for the City of St. Louis, and discussed what would be needed to create a futsal court at Marquette Park. The answer was neighborhood partners, a lot of energy, and time.
“Marquette Park has long been home to soccer on the South Side,” said Dutchtown Main Streets President Nate Lindsey. “We were excited to begin working with neighborhood partners to bring a unique addition to the full length soccer field that could continue that tradition and provide a fun area for our youth to enjoy the game.”
A City-Wide Partnership
The St. Louis City Parks Department was the first partner to jump on board. Parks gave the go-ahead to begin planning the project and committed to partnering with the Streets Division to pour a new asphalt pitch over the existing and long defunct volleyball courts next to the Marquette Park Field House.
Through a private-public partnership with the new Major League Soccer team St. Louis CITY SC, Dutchtown Main Streets and Allies of Marquette Park, Dutchtown South Community Corporation, MADE STL, Raineri Construction, McConnell and Associates, and several private donors, the remaining pieces of the project came together.
“The work at Marquette Park is largely community driven, including the work with the MLS club,” said 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer. “This year we will be overhauling the changing facilities at Marquette Park Pool and working with the community to identify and prioritize next year’s investments. The best way to invest in a community is to be led by where they want their tax dollars invested.”
A One-of-a-Kind Design
The end product will be a wholly unique futsal court open to the public in the heart of South St. Louis. The entirety of the court is covered by a mural designed by St. Louis artist Jayvn Solomon. The mural brings together elements of the artist’s own style, the soccer club, and the Dutchtown neighborhood to create a dynamic and colorful experience for not only players on the court, but the whole neighborhood surrounding the park.
Before the final design was chosen, members of the community working with Allies of Marquette Park and Dutchtown South Community Corporation were able to weigh in on the elements of the mural.
The goals, custom fabricated by MADE STL, feature the logos of both St. Louis CITY SC and the Dutchtown neighborhood. The goals have nets made of resilient metal to resist wear and tear from weather and usage.
Part of the Marquette Park Plan
The futsal court will be the first major project since the completion of a holistic plan for Marquette Park. The plan was assembled in partnership with former PGAV Planners intern and Washington University student Tiffany Dockins. Dockins is now working with Dutchtown South Community Corporation to implement both the park plan and the Green Schoolyards initiative at Froebel Elementary School.
“Through the eyes of a young designer, Marquette Park has tons of potential for equitable elevation but simply needs the investment to do so,” said Dockins. “Judging from residents and community partners, I have high hopes that Marquette Park will continue to evolve and obtain the attention it truly deserves.”
So… What Is Futsal?
Futsal is similar to a scaled-down version of soccer that originated in Uruguay, gained popularity across South America, and is rapidly expanding throughout the world. Often played indoors as well, the game is played on a smaller pitch with a hard surface and uses a smaller, firmer ball with less bounce. Futsal matches are played with five players to a team, and the games consist of two 20 minute halves.
Due to the smaller confines of the field, futsal emphasizes creative strategies, technique, ball control and quick reflexes. Many world famous soccer stars, such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, got their start on the futsal field. Fast paced and high scoring, futsal provides opportunities to develop valuable technical skills to new players before moving to the big pitch, as well as honing the craft for experienced soccer players.
Marquette Park Futsal Court Grand Opening
The new futsal court will be ready for play in early September. St. Louis CITY SC plans to host a kick-off event in collaboration with partners on Saturday, September 25th to celebrate the accomplishment within the neighborhood. Visit the Dutchtown Calendar or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information about this event and upcoming Marquette Park news.