As kids ran up and down the newly renovated soccer field while playing soccer and catch with a football, wide smiles formed on their faces. Miami Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Kirwin was ready to show off the Little Haiti Soccer Park.
Kirwin was unveiling a $1.8 million rehab of the city’s park, which has storage and shaded exercise area.
“We have some great partners here that work with us here at Little Haiti’s Soccer Park,” he said at the ribbon cutting ceremony that was hosted by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Commissioner Keon Hardemon on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
Though people were gathered to talk about soccer, Suarez told a story about losing a a dodgeball game to Hardemon.
“I just want to say, don’t play dodgeball to the chairman,” said Suarez. “It’s not a good idea.” The crowd laughed. Hardemon hit Suarez three different times. Suarez hit a kid.
Suarez is ready for more; he challenged Hardemon to a game in kickball.
Then Suarez reminisced that when he was the age of the kids who were playing on the field, he didn’t have as nice a soccer park in which to play.
“What’s amazing about this soccer field is it can take so much volume of play, whereas other fields, if it gets a little rain on it, it’s muddy and then you have to stop playing on the field,” he said.
When Hardemon took to the lectern, he acknowledged who would benefit most from the renovated space: children.
“When you look at what’s behind us, not the field, but the children on the field, look at the sort of spirit that they are carrying with them, how much fun that they are having and how they’re enjoying something that’s simple as what we would call grass,” Hardemon said.
Hardemon said the park, which is located at 6301 NE Second Ave., deserved top-quality improvements.
“We have a space that we can really attract people,” he said. “I’m proud of this moment because once again, Little Haiti has something that they can be proud of.”
Hardemon said not many parks in the city of Miami have a major soccer park.
“This is something we should cherish and be proud of. This is something that was born of the people,” Hardemon said. “The people want to be able to play soccer here; the people want to be able to enjoy football as well and they want to be able to share those sports on the field that won’t take much damage.”
The soccer park renovations took eight months, which included installing a multipurpose turf field where soccer and football can be played. There’s an exercise equipment station and a storage building.
Marie Louissaint, president of the Little Haiti Optimist Club who uses the field, said that the park has been around for about nine years.
“It’s just awesome to see that this place has flourished with a locker room and a field,” said Louissaint.