May 15, 2015 the Inaugural Futsal court for Indy Parks was welcomed with a ribbon cutting ceremony orchestrated by a partnership between Indy Eleven Professional Soccer, SCORE, Keep Indiana Beautiful, Indiana Soccer, and the Indiana Soccer Foundation.
Futsal, similar to soccer, is a fast-paced (5 on 5) game using a small-sided, heavy ball. Originating in South America, it is played globally and has been connected with building childhood developmental skills of many world-class soccer players.
Indy has several indoor Futsal leagues already established, as the sport grows in popularity as a low cost alternative to soccer. Indy Parks Manager of Community Partnerships, Allen McClendon, Sr., knew that Futsal was a missing component of Indy Parks’ offerings but didn’t have the resources to commit to the marketing evaluation. He called Lesley Neff, Director of Educational Services with Marian’s Adult Programs, at Marian University, to get the ball rolling, so-to-speak.
Last spring, the Marian University MAP business classes were asked to put their knowledge into action and tasked with researching the potential of transforming underutilized Indy Parks’ tennis or basketball courts into outdoor Futsal courts. The process included online research as well as site visits to nine prospective parks. Students then performed visual inspections of the tennis court surfaces, noted additional park facilities and over-all conditions, and evaluated the ease of access to major thoroughfares.
Beyond the logistical considerations, neighbors and business owners surrounding potential sites were interviewed on the relevancy of bringing Futsal to the area, and whether or not the courts were in fact underutilized. Demographic information also played a role in the final recommendation.
The students’ proposal and final presentation concluded with Rhodius Park, on Indy’s inner west side, being nominated as the ideal Inaugural Futsal Court. It is one of Indy Parks’ larger parks, with four recently resurfaced tennis courts, and borders IPS 49. With a growing Hispanic population, many of the families who attend IPS 49 are already familiar with Futsal.
According to McClendon, Indy Parks is hoping to bring Futsal to more parks around the city as funding becomes available. The price tag of resurfacing a tennis court with Sports Court can be anywhere from $10 thousand to $40 thousand, depending on the condition of the existing concrete. The Rhodius Park court transformation was funded by a grant from SCORE, a donation from Indy Eleven, and support from many other community partnerships.
MAP students are able to use their life experience, contacts and aptitude for leadership to make an impact on the community through local business partnerships, such as the one with Indy Parks. McClendon expressed gratitude for the students’ time and efforts, and continually is pleased with both process and results.
McClendon makes it a habit to keep in touch with former MAP students well after class has ended, as they prove to be valuable, experienced contacts, many of whom continue to volunteer with Indy Parks, enhancing the quality of life for others.
Photo Credit: Tom Dunmore