‘Snake Court’ becomes futsal haven in Gresham

New futsal courts opened Tuesday at Vance Park in Gresham

People playing futsal on new courts at Vance Park, Sept. 22, 2015 (KOIN)
People playing futsal on new courts at Vance Park, Sept. 22, 2015 (KOIN)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Are you ready for some futsal?

New futsal courts opened Tuesday at Vance Park in Gresham after a community effort to build youth soccer fields and futsal courts in the Portland metro area.

A partnership between the Portland Timbers, Operation Pitch Invasion and other sponsors covered the $100,000 cost to build the futsal courts under the umbrella project “Fields For All.”

The idea for the futsal courts was spearheaded by resident Ricki Ruiz, who is now working as an intern at Gresham City Hall.  In a statement, Ruiz said everyone was very excited for the official opening.

“They are already out there trying to play on it, and it’s not even open yet.”

Youth who played in the spot have long called that area “Snake Court.” Now, Snake Court stands for Sports, Neighborhood, Action, Knowledge and Empowerment.

“This will change the whole dynamic to what kind of people are hanging out, at least in this portion of the park,” said Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger.

This area of Gresham has had problems in the past, but the neighborhood is seeing change. In addition to the futsal court, a Boys and Girls Club is planned at SE 165th and Stark.

“I mean, it is changing. I think for a long time there was disinvestment in the neighborhood. There has been a lot of investment through the urban renewal agency, but more importantly now you have people investing,” Mayor Shane Bemis said at Tuesday’s official opening ceremony.

Junginger said the police department is doing what it can to prevent gangs from taking over or claiming the courts.

“We are going to have enforcement in here, we will have patrol going through here because you don’t want them to get a foothold in the park.”

Members of the Portland Timbers, city and county officials and futsal players were at the opening ceremony.

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