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The great adventure of renting a soccer field in San Francisco for 2 weeks, 4 hours a day NOT on the week-end.



A dear friend, a few weeks ago, told me: “Gianni, your weekly newsletter reaches a few parents of players on my team and they keep asking me about you. Why don’t you organize a soccer clinic during the spring break in March?”

I answered: “Why not?” I already have my Soccer Academy for adults at the YMCA. I give individual or group lessons to youths and adults in different locations that don’t need to be reserved because it’s only for a few students. If I give a clinic to an entire team, they already have the field where they usually practice. Why not have a couple weeks of clinic camp for youths?

So, here I am, in need of a decent field for 2 weeks, 4 hours a day from 11:00 to 3:00 NOT on the week-end, in March in San Francisco.

I live very close to the Presidio so, aside from the few real soccer fields there under restoration, (In San Francisco, under restoration means that yellow caution tape forbids entering the fields because it’s too wet!!) the first idea was Fort Scott field, even if it is a baseball field without goals. I don’t need goals to teach the fundamentals and I can find a solution for shooting, even without goals!

So, first the ‘Presidio Trust’ and after ‘Park and Recreations’ in case I wasn’t lucky.

Presidio, Lombard gate. Information Office (first person). “Do you know were I can rent Fort Scott field?”
“Sure. Go two blocks ahead, turn on Graham, Building 34. Public Affairs”.

Fantastic. Could this be my lucky day? Back to the car and there I go. Park. Go in. Front desk. A very kind and nice person (second) that tells me that the person in charge of the field is: “Evelyn.... tel..... (third person) but she’s not in this building. She’s at the Officers Club. Just at the end of Graham“. Good. I’m getting closer.

Car. Park. Go in. A place of ghosts. A ghost in the bar and a ghost in the Visitor Center. Evelyn’s office? Deserted. I have my cell phone and I dial the number to be sure that I’m in the right office. The telephone on the desk rings! That’s something. So, the ghost at the Visitor Center tells me that, sometimes, someone, will come to that office but, she’s not sure when and who.

I decide to go to the Log Cabin Reservation office in Golden Gate Park just to gain time. Maybe I will find a field there. I will come back here later. Car. Drive to the Golden Gate Park.

What a place the Log Cabin! If you opened a restaurant in this unbelievable building made of whole tree trunks, in the middle of Golden Gate Park, you could become a millionaire in a few years, so what did they decide? To put a few desks and tons of documents there and voila’, we have an office for reservations.

I wait for my turn and when I said that I’d like to reserve a field in March (fourth person), being the beginning of February, they almost fell on the ground laughing. “You can reserve ONLY 2 weeks in advance and ONLY for 2 hours. If you’d like to make a reservation for a clinic we need a written request 90 days (3 months!) in advance. We need to let the GARDENERS!!!! who take care of the fields, know.”

Did you ever see the soccer fields of the Polo Fields or the Beach Chalet?

A big grassy area surrounded by a fence, with invisible chalk lines on the grass and aluminum goals, (that were painted in white a century ago and a few imperceptible fragments of paint are still there), with automatic irrigation.

GARDENERS? It’s just a piece of grass like the rest of Golden Gate Park, but much worse because people play soccer on it! This space doesn’t have anything to do with a soccer field because it‘s full of holes and not flat. You can only get injured running there! So, anyway, no hope to rent some grassy area surrounded by a fence!

But, because I’m a lucky person, when I asked if they know were to rent Fort Scott Field in the Presidio, they told me: “Call Melinda.... tel...... at the Golden Gate Recreational Area.” (fifth person) I ask the address because I prefer to talk in person. Fort Mason, Building 201. Lucky guy!!!!!

In going there, I checked the Officer’s Club in the Presidio. Park. Go in.

One ghost less because, in the mean time, the bar closed for ‘technical problems’. That’s what a sign said, stuck on the closed door. Only the ghost at the Visitor Center. No Evelyn.

Car. Fort Mason. Park. Building A, B, C, etc., etc., but no building 201.

Information Office. (sixth person) “You are in the wrong place! Go out, take a left, enter Fort Mason from Franklin. The big building in the middle is 201.”

Car. Drive. Park. 201. Go in. (seventh person) “Excuse me, do you know where Melinda’s office is?”
“Sure. It’s not here. Go out. Do you see that building? There.” Walk there.

“Hi, I need to talk with Melinda.”
(eighth person) “About what?”
“I’d like to rent Fort Scott Field.”
“She’s not the person. You have to go to the Presidio, address…………‘Special Events’ and talk with Steve...... tel.....” (ninth person)

Car. Drive. Park. Walk there. Notice that I am back in the Presidio, 300 yards from were I was at the beginning in the morning, nine people before!

A barrack with white paint that’s falling to pieces (maybe painted the same day of the goals at the Polo Field), a window with a sticker: 201, plus the symbol of a cinematographic camera. On top of the building a little sign: ‘Special Events’.

Knock. No one. I walk a little and someone opens. “Are you Steve?” I asked. When he said “Yes” I almost kissed him!

“I have a meeting but you can wait“.

When it was my turn, he accompanied me very kindly to his office, we looked at the reservations and, MIRACLE, the weeks and the times I need, were available!!!!

Cost? More than the Golden Gate Park for the usual piece of grass surrounded by a fence without goals but, who cares? I have a space in March to do my soccer clinic. After I paid in advance (NOW), filled out the forms and signed the documents, if it rains 24 hours before, I will lose my money, after I provide the insurance (NOW), if I find enough students, maybe I will not loose money.

Teaching soccer in this city, maybe in this country, seems to be something really wrong and unknown. It’s harder than trying to win the California Lottery but, I won’t give up. Isn’t that what I always say to my students?

“Never, give up!” And for sure, I will not! Soccer is in my eyes!


Coach Gianni
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Posted on 03 Mar 2006 by coachgianni
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