Turlock’s newest nonprofit is hoping to help underserved youth learn some of life’s most valuable lessons through sports, and the organization’s first order of business is building them a place to play.
The recently-formed Turlock Youth Sports Foundation, co-founded by Fred Rasuli and Hanibal Yadegar, has partnered with the Stanislaus County Fair to bring Turlock Sports Park, Inc. to town. Ground has already broken on the project, which will include three multi-use sports fields at the fairgrounds’ Soderquist Road parking lot.
“I’ve been involved with competitive soccer for about six years now...you’re always running into kids that can’t afford to play, whether they don’t have the gear or the ability to travel for whatever sport it is,” Rasuli said. “The people who are involved with this park and this foundation, we all knew growing up that sports was an outlet. It helped us cope with things and build lasting friendships and memories.”
Rasuli wanted to give Turlock children who otherwise may not have the opportunity a chance to make similar memories, he said.
TYSF will partner with several youth support organizations in the city, like Jessica’s House, Turlock Police Activities League and Westside Ministries, raising funds for the said nonprofits in order to ensure Turlock’s youth who are in the most need are able to access services. The foundation will also use funds to provide equipment for players in need, or help with registration fees or travel expenses.
An annual celebration, with kids’ activities during the day and an awards gala in the evening, will raise a majority of the foundation’s funds, Rasuli said.
Turlock Sports Park, Inc. will serve as the physical manifestation of the foundation: a place where the kids can keep active by playing sports, building friendships as well as their confidence. Funding for the project has come from both public and private donations, and local businesses have given both time and products to the cause.
“We feel that if we are able to give back not only financially, but also bring kids out for free recreational activities, maybe that will help them find a different kind of group support and be able to cope with whatever’s going on in their life,” Rasuli said. “If a kid has confidence because they have new friendships, sports gear, or even a new jersey to play in, then we’ve done our job.”
The new sports complex will be located on the dirt lot west of the fairgrounds, and the fields will be the first public-use complex with lights that can host sports other than softball and baseball. Local teams will available to rent the field for game or training use, Rasuli said, and youth recreational leagues will be provided throughout the year.
The field is technologically advanced as well, with LED lighting, weather-sensitive sprinklers and a camera system which can be utilized by coaches for game film or relatives who want to watch games from their computers.
Despite its proximity to the fairgrounds and former use as a parking lot, Turlock Sports Park, Inc. will not affect traffic, Stanislaus County Fair CEO Matt Cranford said.
“We always strive to give back to our community, and this partnership will enable us to do just that,” he said. “However, we do want our guests to know that the newly-built sports park will not impact parking during fair time and large events that we have on grounds.”
Guests will be able to park on the sports fields during events like the fair, Turlock Swap Meet and Listener Appreciation Concert. The complex should be completed by summer, Rasuli said, and TYSF is in search of board members who are active in the local youth sports scene or have experience in the field.
Those who are interested can contact Rasuli at 209-678-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.