Youth Sports

“This is a long time coming:” Youth coaches and athletes rally for sports in FDR Park

by Grace Romo on February 1, 2024

Last weekend, FDR Park witnessed an inspiring event hosted by Unity in the Community as community members, youth sports teams, and elected officials came together to share their support for the athletic fields and courts proposed in the FDR Park Plan. Along with the speaking program, there was a performance by Commandoes Drill Team, a DJ, food trucks, and sign-making activities for kids and families. The rally highlighted the wide support across Philadelphia for investing in the next generation of young athletes and demonstrated the value of youth sports in fostering community spirit, imparting life lessons, and setting kids up for success later in life. Fairmount Park Conservancy is so thankful for supporters and partners like Unity in the Community who advocate for opportunity and equity for Philadelphia’s children and communities. 



Youth sports play such a vital role in the physical and emotional development of children, but limited facilities and poor field conditions make it difficult for many children to participate in and benefit from youth sports at the 348-acre park. Saturday’s event at FDR became a rallying cry and call to action in support of access to youth sports and the need for high-quality athletic fields.  

Anthony Meadows, President of the South Philly Sigma Sharks, told attendees, “I stand here as a man, as a father, as a coach, as a husband. I stand here as someone born and raised in South Philadelphia. I stand here and I support this project. Philadelphia lacks the services and facilities that other cities have… and we need to catch up.”


Dontae Privette, the Director of Community Engagement for the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative, grew up playing sports in Philadelphia. “We played football in the middle of the street with cars parked on both sides,” said Dontae, “This is an opportunity to benefit thousands of kids. In my day job, I represent all of these sports organizations, like the Sharks, like the Aztecs, like the Kingsessing Roadrunners where I started coaching 16 years ago. This is a long time coming.” 

He said the next generation of athletes is already here and they need safe, accessible spaces to grow and thrive.



The youth sports rally at FDR Park was not just a one-time event; it reflected the continuation of years of community engagement and coalition-building to make safe, high-quality athletic facilities accessible in more neighborhoods for more young people. It takes a collective effort to transform the athletic landscape for the city’s young athletes, and community members must be at the forefront of these necessary decisions. 

“This FDR Park Plan — the expansion and improvement of the park — is at the heart of what will keep our young people safe,” said Mayor Cherelle Parker. “There’s got to be room for everybody here. Everything that I’ve seen in the plans being proposed has been thought through very carefully about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how we make the park better so it’s more welcoming for everybody, for people, no matter their race, class, socio-economic status, or zip code. We want to make sure that everyone feels welcome here.” 

This event showcased the strength of a community united behind a common cause. As the momentum continues, it’s clear that many people in Philadelphia look forward to the proposed athletic fields at FDR Park, and will continue to work together to ensure that every child has equal opportunities to thrive and succeed and access to youth sports that can have a life-changing impact.

Photography by Albert Lee.

Watch highlights from the FDR Park Rally from Unity in the Community!