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  • KERO 23 Bakersfield

    Tehachapi celebrates opening of Valley Park, specialized soccer field

    By Steve Virgen,


    Grand opening event for Valley Park draws over 700 people, including children who participate in soccer clinics and placing hands in cement.

    • Valley Park, which features a 5-a-side soccer field, opens with just over $2 million in a grant from Caltrans Clean California.
    • Several children continue to play on soccer field well after the event ended. City engineer Andrew Norton says it's a possibility that 5-a-side leagues will play at the park.


    5 A Side is soccer on a small scale. But the community came out in a big way to celebrate the opening of a new field...

    I'm Steve Virgen, your neighborhood reporter in Tehachapi.

    More than 700 people turned out on Monday at Valley Park... to be a part of a grand opening that included a ribbon cutting, hands in cement, and of course ... soccer.

    “I think it’s great. I think there’s an extra park for the community. And, normally we have to drive. We can walk to this one.”

    Nicole Lacombe, a mother of two, showed her excitement for the new park by placing the footprint of her baby daughter, Phoenix, into the cement at Valley Park.

    Virgen: “Why did you think it was important to have your kids, and this little one, to have her footprint into the concrete?”

    Nicole: “It’s a memorable thing. We’ll be able to come here every year, take a look and see how much they’ve grown.”

    The official opening of Valley Park also featured soccer clinics with the help of the Tehachapi High boys and girls soccer teams.

    Virgen: “How does it feel to be a part of this event?”

    Surdeep Singh, Tehachapi High soccer player: “It actually feels great to be a part of such a monumental event for this town. And it feels great that we’re gonna help some of these kids be great players in the long run.”

    Over 200 kids received a free ball.

    Virgen: “How does it feel to see all this?

    Greg Garrrett, city manager: “Very proud. As the city manager. These are things that make the day special, the month, the year, special. It’s all about serving the public.”

    A grant of more than 2 million dollars from Caltrans Clean California largely funded the project.

    Kids can use their energy on a playground or during pick-up soccer games on the 5-a-side field.

    The ball can be played off the wall. and can sometimes be physical.

    “More like hockey … kicking the ball.”

    Andrew Norton, the city engineer, tells me a regulation soccer field would have been too big for the new park. The 5-a-side field fits perfectly. He says he’s grateful for the city’s support to make his dream come true.

    “It’s excellent how the community responded. We’re super thankful that there were so many people here. It shows the support of the community and the want of the community for a facility like this, to have this many people," Norton says.

    Norton told me it's very possible that 5 side soccer leagues could take place here in the future. I'm Steve Virgen, your neighborhood reporter.

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