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Soccer facility in Swope Park evens playing field for Kansas City athletes

Soccer organizations continue to use new indoor facility at Swope Park
Posted at 5:42 AM, Feb 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-05 08:20:25-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Kansas City gets ready to host a global soccer audience during the FIFA World Cup in 2026, Kansas City, Missouri, Parks & Recreation and a local soccer academy are making sure the playing field is even for all soccer athletes.

Due to high costs associated with club soccer and the demand to make soccer affordable and accessible, the department turned the former Camp Lake of the Woods Horse Barn into an indoor training soccer facility that offers year-round training. The space opened in November of 2022 with new turf and other amenities and is used by several soccer organizations including Ryogoku Soccer Academy.

"I think with with the aspects of clubs, the amount of money and the cost is it's difficult for a lot of families," said Brad Leonard, technical director of Ryogoku Soccer Academy. "We want to provide training regardless of their financial situation, regardless of their background and experiences."

The facility is offered to organizations at a reduced cost and is helping athletes stay on top of their skills during the off season.

"The pay-to-play system for soccer in America is broken, we focus on multi-million dollar facilities and then we look at a way to to recover those operating costs and we leave a lot of kids behind with that model," explained Chris Cotten, director of Kansas City Parks & Recreation. "We found a way to repurpose facilities that were vacant and not being used, making access to training that is affordable."

Since its 2022 opening, thousands of athletes from around the urban core have taken advantage of this field. Ryogoku says their athletes are also representing different nationalities from around the world and cultivate a stronger community each time they're on the field.

"No matter where you're from or how old you are, you can always communicate with the ball," said Ruben Garcia Flores with Ryogoku Soccer Academy.

To learn more head to Ryogoku's website.