Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and our member leagues decry the decision of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation not to grant field permits for organized soccer activities for the kickoff of our fall season in September.

The e-mail that was sent from NYC Parks staff to permit applicants cited “health and safety concerns” as the reason for this decision. Yet, with park fields still open to the public—most with little or no enforcement of social distancing, masks or crowds – our programs provide the best way to ensure that children and teenagers can make safe, supervised use of the fields in a way that adheres to city, state and CDC guidelines plus crowd restrictions.

Furthermore, the decision sends a startling message that the city will not permit outdoor youth recreational activities to return while bars, gyms, bowling alleys and museums can all reopen.

This shortsighted decision will have a potentially devastating impact on New York City’s children and teens, including their physical, mental and social-emotional health. In addition to helping youngsters maintain healthy lifestyles and learn important life skills, our programs also keep teens off the streets and engaged in positive activities with coach mentors and positive role models.

In the midst of a global pandemic, an economic recession and a dramatic rise in the city’s gun violence, it has never been more important to support the health and well-being of the next generation.

Without permits to these fields, our organizations will be unable to offer soccer, leaving a devastating hole in the lives of tens of thousands of children and teenagers. We encourage all our members to sign this online petition to get organized soccer back in New York City parks:

https://www.change.org/p/the-city-of-new-york-permit-youth-sports-organizations-to-use-nyc-parks-fields?redirect=false&fbclid=IwAR2gKfQ1QcvidGZqw2-ytlUd8AW7Z490MGmRcAjJ-8niwS4jBz4K_udl5kU

We urge New York City Parks and Recreation to immediately reverse course and provide field permits to youth organizations in time for our fall season.