Evanston’s portable soccer field puts kids on global footing to learn the game – Chicago Tribune

If this were anywhere in the world but a well-to-do American suburb, the sight wouldn’t have seemed so odd: a pack of children of varying ages and abilities playing soccer on their own without a peep of direction from coaches or parents.

Of course, this being suburbia — Evanston, specifically — this form of pickup soccer wasn’t exactly what you’d find in the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

A coach and numerous parents were indeed present, though they remained mute. And the game wasn’t taking place on a patch of asphalt or a humble, unmarked field — it was happening in a $35,000 portable structure designed to encourage unstructured play.

“My kids would play (by themselves), but they could never get the quantity of people you’d need for a real game,” said Tavia Whitney, whose 12-year-old son Will was among the crowd. “They’d play in our backyard, they’d play in the neighborhood park, but it was never really a full-on game. If you have a destination everybody knows about, (children are) more likely to gravitate toward it.”

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