(Jan. 3, 2020) New portable mesh soccer walls have been installed at the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Complex at Northside Park on 125th Street.
The older soccer walls were replaced with new ones in early December. The new mesh walls are 114 feet 8 inches tall by 86 feet wide. Each panel that they connect to is 42 inches tall.
The walls take up a majority of the east gym, reaching to the ceiling, though there is enough space for walking around.
“We use the courts for multi sports, multipurpose, anywhere from dancing to basketball and soccer and just about anything,” Recreation Supervisor Eddie Pinto said. “We play everything there, so we have to be able to have something that’s portable that we can put up.”
The special mesh walls are a requirement for indoor soccer.
“For a recreational program like we have on Saturdays, people use the walls to confine the game and to keep the game flowing,” Pinto said. “During our Saturday soccer leagues and the tournaments that we play, where we use the east side walls of the new walls … they use those walls basically as a teammate. You can pass it off the wall around somebody and it confines the game, protects and keeps the game flowing.”
The older walls were beginning to wear down and were difficult to maneuver through, taking up more of the outside space and was shaped somewhat like a large circle. The new walls are squarer and allows easier passage for teams and sports fans to walk through.
The new walls are also easier to set up and remove, at least in comparison to the original ones.
“It gives them much more room to operate on the soccer floor,” Pinto said. “It’s amazing how you look at it and it’s actually taking up less space overall. It was hard to get up and down [between] the walls because outside the walls it was very tight. And now, you can comfortably get around it.”
The winter indoor soccer youth league has been running for about four weeks now, and the response has been positive.
“I have not heard one negative comment,” Pinto, who is in charge of the indoor soccer program, said. “I’ve heard quite a few on the positive side, that they like the quarters being different. The ball comes off [it] differently. I think they’re still getting used to that a little bit, but they do seem to like it.”
Considering there are just under 500 children who participate in the Saturday soccer tournaments during the winter season, that is good news for Pinto. Children from kindergarten up to senior year in high school compete in various levels.
Winter soccer tournaments will take place every Saturday until Jan. 25. Games start at 8:30 a.m. and finish around 7:30 p.m.
There are also high school teams who compete on Sundays. Games on Sundays run from 12:30-6:30 p.m.
“We’re very happy that we got it through the budget process and it’s definitely a benefit to last us for quite some time,” Pinto said.
The walls cost the department $29,110 with an additional freight cost. The overall cost was $31,310.
The portable mesh walls are set up and taken down every weekend for the winter soccer tournaments.
While it is too late to join the winter soccer tournaments, a spring program for children in kindergarten to eighth grade will be available on Mondays from March 9 to May 11. Competition will take place from 5-9 p.m. The cost to participate is $58, or $47 for an Ocean City resident.
For more information, call Northside Park at 410-250-0125.