Makayah Wood and friends

Makayah Wood, far right, and her friends, are excited to play and practice on the upcoming synthetic turf field. 

The football players at Charles Hadley Park scored a big touchdown when Miami city leaders broke ground on a synthetic turf field last Monday.

The planned field improvement is the latest of upgrades slated for Charles Hadley Park. The week prior, football fans, neighbors and city of Miami leaders celebrated the completion and installation of several projects, including a new irrigation system for the different fields, improved outdoor exercise equipment, solar canopy trees and a digital marquee for sporting events.

The synthetic turf will provide a NFL-quality field for the football games and practices that take place at the park throughout the year. The project is slated to cost around $2.2 million and is expected to be completed in October.

Charles Hadley Park is the headquarters of the Liberty City Warriors, a football program sponsored by the Liberty City Optimist Club, an organization that uses the sport to provide mentorship and academic guidance to neighborhood children.

“I’m overwhelmed because I played football running up along this field,” said Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell, co-founder, president and coach of the Liberty City Optimist Club.

The field renovations mark the first major improvements made to a field that sees constant playing action. Along with the newly installed irrigation system, the fields throughout Charles Hadley Park are expected to become some of the best in the city. The new synthetic field will give players a realistic playing experience and help them grow as players, Campbell said. “It's just a beautiful thing.”

Football players present at the groundbreaking are patiently waiting to play and practice in the new field.

“It makes me feel happy because it is our neighborhood park that we grew up in,” said Makayah Woods. Makayah, a student at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, plays for the Liberty City Warriors Elite, the female division of the park's football program. A new synthetic field will bring extra attention to her games, she said. “It’ll help give us more exposure.”

The Liberty City Optimist Club focuses on academic as well as personal development, Campbell said. “Our program is academics first,” he said. “It's not just about sports; it is about education.”

Antonio Brown, Devontae Freeman and Chad Johnson are Miami-based NFL players who trained at the Liberty City Optimist Club. The Liberty City Warriors is one of the best football programs in Florida, Campbell said.

Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon is a former Liberty City Warrior who credits much of his success to his participation in the program.

“It is going to be a wonderful addition to the park,” Hardemon said. “Now you have the space that can be played upon and will not take a beating as the old field did,” he said. “It is nice to have an NFL-quality field in the heart of Liberty City.”

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