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Orange County Soccer Club breaks ground on first ‘mini-pitch’

The Orange County Soccer Club breaks ground on a miniature outdoor hard-surface soccer field in Santa Ana.
The Orange County Soccer Club held a groundbreaking ceremony on a new miniature outdoor hard-surface soccer field, a mini-pitch, on Tuesday morning at Delhi Park in Santa Ana.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The next great Orange County Soccer Club player just might come right from the club’s backyard.

It’s just one of the incentives behind the launch of the club’s first miniature outdoor soccer field — “mini-pitch” — at Delhi Park in Santa Ana.

Orange County Soccer Club held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the site.

The lighted, fenced hard-court field is set to be completed by December.

It will cost $220,000, nearly half of which will be paid for by a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and DICK’S Sporting Goods. The city of Santa Ana is allocating acquisition and development funds for the remaining $120,000.

The mini-pitch is slated to be competed in early December.

“We have a great relationship with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, and they have this program nationwide where they’re developing and installing safe places to play soccer all around the country,” said OCSC Community Foundation executive director Lisa Keston.

“They came to us for help in scouting locations ... and we came together and talked to the city of Santa Ana. They identified this location as a great spot for a mini-pitch like this.”

Orange County Soccer Club President Jeff Garner speaks at Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony.
Orange County Soccer Club President Jeff Garner, left, Santa Ana Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency Executive Director Lisa Rudloff and Santa Ana City Councilman Phil Bacerra speak during Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Jeff Garner, OCSC’s president of business relations, said the club has identified spots for four to five mini-pitches around Orange County in the next couple of years and is actively seeking funding to build them.

Garner said the club is in talks with Huntington Beach officials and has identified a potential location for a mini-pitch there.

The club plans to host youth camps and clinics at the mini-pitches multiple times a year.

“We want to make sure we make sure we provide some constructive programming,” Garner said. “On one hand, there’s professional ID camps. We’re certainly looking for the best talent in Orange County, to get them involved in our pathway to professional soccer.

“But also, from a clinic standpoint, we just want to get kids out here and make sure they have an outlet for health and wellness. We can be a part of that, and be a part of connecting the community.”

Orange County Soccer Club also has reached an agreement with the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees to provide free soccer clinics at Oak View Elementary School in Huntington Beach, Keston said.

Santa Ana City Council member Phil Bacerra said he expects the site at Delhi Park to be a winner.

“Santa Ana is probably the soccer capital of Orange County, so to add to our repertoire of resources for our community to engage in playing soccer is just a natural fit,” Bacerra said.

“It’s kind of like basketball, where you have a sport that’s naturally played in the community, but to have that professional tutelage and guidance being given to the community is just a wonderful thing.”

Orange County Soccer Club now turns its attention back to the match action.

The side, which has clinched a United Soccer League Championship playoff spot, plays at Los Angeles Galaxy II in its regular-season finale on Saturday night.

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