Renovations Also Include Basketball Courts, Playground for Nearly 1,000 Students to Use Regularly


Renovations Also Include Basketball Courts, Playground for Nearly 1,000 Students to Use Regularly

Harlem, NY — Success Academy unveiled a new turf soccer field at its Harlem North Central school on Thursday. Formerly an expanse of cracking cement, the play yard also features two full-length basketball courts and a playground. Nearly 1,000 children from Success Academy and P.S. 175 Henry H. Garnet, which shares the building on West 134th Street, will regularly play and train there.

The renovation project — a collaboration with the New York City Department of Education’s Division of School Facilities —  began last summer and was funded by Success Academy. With the new yard’s opening, Success Academy soccer players can dramatically increase their use of the space for recess and sports — from seven hours a week last year to as much as 55 hours each week starting next year.

Roughly 350 players from the Success Academy Soccer Program will use the the new field at Success Academy Harlem North Central for 55 hours per week — up from seven hours per week last year. The turf field replaces an old cement play yard that had fallen into disrepair.

“This field is transformative for our soccer program, and it will have lasting impact for the children of Harlem,” said Eva Moskowitz, Success Academy founder and CEO. “This is an important investment in children’s futures whether they dream of playing college soccer or going on to the World Cup.”

The new soccer field is an important asset for the rapidly growing Success Academy Soccer Program, which launched in 2013 to expand access to the sport for low-income children and upend the pay-to-play model of American youth soccer. The program, featured in a documentary called Success, now provides 4,500 Success Academy scholars in grades K-5 with the kind of high-level training and competition that more affluent children receive in expensive private soccer clubs. This year, Success Academy scholars have competed in a range of soccer and futsal tournaments against elite opponents, often as the only school-based program, including regional competitions in Atlantic City and Boston.

The new soccer field is crucial to the scaling of the four-year-old Success Academy Soccer Program, which already serves 4,500 scholars across New York City. Success Academy Harlem North Central serves as the program’s hub.

The Success Academy Soccer Program now hosts practices almost every day for 350 scholars in grades 1-5, including 175 players on competitive club teams. SA Harlem North Central serves as the program’s hub and will soon be the site of local tournaments and other competitions.

A dedicated soccer field is crucial to player development for large, growing programs like Success Academy’s. New York City public field permits are competitive to secure and are granted via a grandfathering system that puts newcomers and younger players like Success Academy scholars at a disadvantage. Success Academy has received permits for roughly 15% of its applications to play on public fields since the program’s founding in 2013.

“For years, we’ve had a vision of Success Academy serving as a model of what’s possible for a public school soccer program,” said Boris Bozic, senior manager of the Success Academy Soccer Program. “This new field allows our program to offer hundreds of scholars the space to train and develop from elementary school through high school — and puts them in a prime position to eventually earn soccer scholarships to top universities.”

Bozic, who grew up in Serbia and played for his country’s youth national team, joined Success Academy in 2013 to launch the program after playing soccer on a full athletic scholarship in college and running his own soccer training company. Today, he oversees the Soccer Program’s design and curriculum and manages Success Academy’s 23 full-time, school-based soccer coaches.

The Success Academy Soccer Program addresses a growing problem in the United States. American youth soccer participation, especially among low-income children in urban centers, has declined significantly over the last decade, largely due to rapidly-rising costs and lack of coach training, according to a 2017 Aspen Institute report. The report found that children from low-income families are half as likely to participate in youth sports as their affluent peers, and that the participation gap has grown every year since 2013.


Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 46 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 15,500 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 75% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 87% are children of color, 16% are children with disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy is the size of the seventh largest school district in New York State and is number one in student achievement, outperforming affluent suburban school districts.

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