Atlanta United wants to build soccer fields across Georgia through grant program

Atlanta United
Atlanta United is awarding grants to organizations to build 100 "mini-pitches" throughout Georgia. (Emil Moffatt/WABE News)

The Atlanta United Foundation has a goal of building 100 “mini-pitches” — or small soccer fields — across the state of Georgia and it hopes to accomplish that feat over the next four years leading up to the World Cup in 2026.

The GA 100 campaign, as it’s known, is designed to bring soccer to children in more communities and expand the club’s footprint beyond Metro Atlanta.

The idea was launched in 2019, but it’s been a slow start because of the pandemic.

Marissa Ahrens, Atlanta United’s director of community engagement, says the first of these new mini-pitches opens this week in Brunswick.

“That was really what was the most important part of this project was that we open it up statewide, and beyond, so that we can really start making waves, not only in metro Atlanta, which is where a lot of our grant-making comes into, but far beyond that,” said Ahrens.

The matching grants — which can be up to $75,000 per field — are available to non-profits, schools and public parks. The Atlanta United Foundation is working with the Local Initiative Support Corporation to award the grants.

“Something that we found in our research and in working with non-profits is that they have great programming structure, but field space is very limited, and a high commodity,” said Ahrens.

Some of the mini-pitches will be refurbishments of existing athletic facilities while others will be built from scratch. Some, like the one in Brunswick, will have a hard surface like a futsal court, while others will have turf.

“We wanted to make sure it fits the place, because we’re not going to be an organization that’s going to come in and put too many barriers around it,” said Ahrens. “It really has to meet the needs of the community.”

Atlanta United says 16 mini-pitches are already under construction or are near completion. The next application period for organizations runs from April through mid-July.

The 2026 World Cup is set to take place in venues across North America. Atlanta is among the cities vying to host matches that year.