Oakridge Neighborhood is Iowa's largest project-based Section 8 housing complex with 300 units, located on 17 acres in the urban core of Des Moines, Iowa. The tenant population is diverse, with 66% of them living as refugees and immigrants from 23 countries and speaking 29 different languages. Oakridge has been a haven for the community's most vulnerable children and families for over 50 years and is more than just a housing facility, it's a community of people gaining their foothold in this nation while preparing for the next step in their life's journey.
Oakridge Neighborhood was joined by Pro Iowa, an organization focused on transforming the nearby Dico Superfund site into a premier professional soccer stadium, in November 2021, to celebrate the opening of the Oakridge Neighborhood Pro Iowa Mini-Pitch, a form of mini-soccer field that uses less land and creates a safe space for the neighborhood children and adults to have fun and socialize. Pro Iowa, through a unique $1 million partnership with the Musco Lighting and Kick It Forward organizations, donated 10 mini-pitches to communities across the state. During the grand opening at Oakridge, Pro Iowa and Kick It Forward welcomed the Oakridge Neighborhood residents to watch as nearby middle school students took to the pitch to make the inaugural first kick. This project is the last of 10 courts constructed as part of the Pro Iowa Initiative across the state.
In many communities across the nation, mini-pitches or "futsal" courts as they are commonly known, are helping to create the "third-spaces" long known to help anchor neighborhood identities and foster community bonding for the last several decades in the United States, a term endeared by renowned political scientist, Robert Putnam.
"The mini-pitch is a welcome addition to our 17-acre neighborhood," said Teree Caldwell-Johnson, president and CEO of Oakridge Neighborhood. "Over 53% of our residents are children and they have already been having a ball playing soccer on this new amenity."
The completion of the Oakridge mini-pitch — located just one mile from the future Pro Iowa Stadium — readies the community for the next step in becoming a global soccer mainstay and thriving economic growth center. Oakridge Neighborhood has embraced its new amenity as Des Moines' growing global population continues to build excitement for the game of soccer.