New soccer facility opens in Swope Park

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 8:45 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kansas City soccer community got a little bit bigger today as KC Parks & Recreation is showcasing a new soccer facility located within Swope Park.

When you think of new soccer facilities, you might think of the KC Current’s facility. You might also think of new facilities across the metro, including in Overland Park and the Northland. But, this one in KCMO is a little bit different.

For starters, the new facility has everything from soccer balls and nets to plenty of skillful players on the pitch. What makes it unique, however, is that it’s an old horse barn.

“When I saw the space, I knew what could be done,” said Chris Cotten, the director of KC Parks & Recrecation. “I knew the possibilities. It was just a matter of figuring out the right partnership.”

That’s where Brad Leonard and his Ryogoku soccer academy came into play. The group’s focus is affordable education and soccer.

They’ve been operating the teaching side of the program at a local metro church. When it comes to the soccer side, they’ve never had an indoor soccer facility to call home until now.

“If they want to be on that World Cup team in a few years then, Kansas City, we need to be able to have the resources and support to back them up,” Leonard said.

One of those Ryogoku kids who has their feet set on the World Cup pitch is Ruben Garcia-Flores.

“One day, I want to be able to retire and be able to say, ‘Wow, I was one of those great players like Pirlo, Messi and Ronaldo,’” Garcia-Flores said.

Where would it have all started? Right there on a pitch that’s in a pretty unique place.

“Usually, as a club, you have to rent areas to play and practice,” Garcia-Flores said. “With this new facility, we don’t have to do that. We can just come here and it’s ours, and we really can do whatever we like with it.”